Mid Ulster Council, a new local authority that will take over the powers of three existing bodies, has voted not to stock Remembrance Sunday poppies in any of their buildings. The council agreed the ban as an interim measure before they put the proposal out to consultation later this year.
Poppies have been a symbol of the sacrifice of British soldiers ever since American troops noticed the first thing to grow back on WWI battlefields was the flower. Since then millions of poppies have been sold by the Royal British Legion to raise money for servicemen and women through the ‘Poppy Appeal’.
Mid Ulster Council is dominated by Sinn Fein/IRA and as a result the measure to ban poppies passed by 24 votes to 15. Ironically soldiers from both the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom fought together in WWI as Ireland only gained independence in 1919, a year after the war ended. As a result it is possible the body of the Unknown Solider in Westminster Abbey is an Irish Catholic from what is now the Republic.
The Belfast Telegraph reports both the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) have vowed to fight the measure.
In a joint statement they said: “Everything about these decisions stinks to high heaven. First you have the manner of the decision; they should have held the full public consultation and full Equality Impact assessment first.
“Sinn Fein and the SDLP are trying to skew the pitch by ramming these decisions through and then going through the motions on consultation.
“Second, the speed in which they wanted to take these decisions and how quickly they were implemented shows they couldn’t wait to try and abuse their majority status on the new council.
“Third, the decisions themselves both individually and collectively aim to create a cold house for Unionists in Mid-Ulster in breach of the council’s legal, equality and good relations responsibilities.
Mid Ulster Council said: “In developing new policies on flags, emblems and language, the council anticipates the need to carry out Equality Impact Assessments, which will not be complete before 1 April.
“In considering an interim approach, the council has decided that the sale of emblems, including poppies and Easter lilies, will not take place from council premises.”
The Council has already decided to ensure all of its branding is in both English and Gaelic, despite the latter not being the first language of any of its residents.