The County Tyrone town of Strabane will not permit Irish flags at its St. Patrick's Day celebration this year.
The Derry City and Strabane District Council (DCSDC), which is running the St. Patrick's Day celebration for the first time this year, confirmed that the Irish flag will be banned from the celebration, in an effort to make it a cross-community event.
“Flags and emblems will not be included in the official parade which is planned for the enjoyment of everyone," a DCSDC spokeswoman stated.
“The council is committed to promoting inclusion and integration within and between communities in all its activities, events and programmes.”
Flags and parades have long been a hot-button issue in Northern Ireland, and were among the topics US peace envoy Richard Haas attempted to mediate at Stormont in 2013 before the talks dissolved.
Independent local councilor Paul Gallagher told the BBC that the decision was a break from previous St. Patrick's Day parades in Strabane, where flags were "very much welcome."
"As a councilor, I will be bringing it into the chamber, that we change the interpretation [of legislation] that council is using," he added.
People expressed outrage on Twitter, questioning if the DCSDC would do the same for the Orange Parades in July.
Literally everyone in the world plasters the Irish flag all over themselves on Saint Patrick’s day because he is the patron saint of Ireland .... yet it is banned from the Strabane parade this year ? Hope they are doing the same for the 12th this year— Billie💘💘💘 (@BillieMcCormack) February 1, 2018
I’m appealing to all people who will be attending ALL St Patrick s day parades to wear/carry our national flag especially in the Derry/Strabane location. Banning our flag when the rest of the world display it on this day is wrong no matter the reason behind it 🇮🇪🇮🇪— frankie (@SteinJock) February 2, 2018
Get around the ban on the Irish tricolour in Strabane this Paddy's day by bringing an ivory coast flag instead— Jason Ashford (@jasonashford89) February 2, 2018
Sinn Fein councilors are planning to lodge a motion to see the decision overturned, Joe.ie reported.
@sinnfeinireland is to lodge a motion with @dcsdcouncil demanding that the tricolour be allowed to fly at this year's St Patrick's Day parade in Strabane. The move will require a rewriting of official council policy.— Conor Sharkey (@ConorSharkeySC) February 1, 2018
Do you think Irish flags should be flown at the St. Patrick's Day parade? Share your thoughts in the comment section.