Unionists fight plan for council workers to wear Easter Lily to commemorate 1916 Rising

Easter Lily Symbol of 1916 Rising

Unionists fight plan for council workers to wear Easter Lily to commemorate 1916 Rising

The Democratic Unionist Party is opposing moves to allow council workers to wear the Easter Lily to commemorate those who died during the 1916 Rising.

Derry City and Strabane District Council is considering a proposal to allow its staff to wear the emblem if they wish to do so.

Sinn Féin councillor Mickey Cooper told the BBC that the move is an “example of inclusive politics”.

He said: “This was considered by the working group over a lengthy period of time.

“We took the advice of the Equality Commission and trade unions and this is about giving people the right to wear one.

“There was cross-party representation on the group, including the DUP and UUP, and when the evidence was considered, it was clear that the wearing of Easter lilies – just like the poppy – is entirely consistent with a harmonious and inclusive working environment.”

Mr Cooper added that wearing the lily did not imply support for violence or an armed campaign for independence. “I wear a lily every Easter and I support the peace process,” he said.

However, the move has angered DUP members of the council who see it as divisive.

DUP councillor David Ramsey said: “The issue is that in recent months motions have been brought before council to create division and here we have it again.

“The Easter lily and the poppy are being seen as being on par. That is not possible. The lily can create community tensions whereas the poppy is an international symbol worn by people with different religions around the entire world.

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“In recent history, the lily has been used as a symbol for the Provisional IRA and prisoners. That’s the issue unionists have.”

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The council will make a final decision on the issue later this month. Cllr Ramsey says the DUP will take legal action if the proposal is approved.

Meanwhile, the MP for East Londonderry, Gregory Campbell, said the Easter Lily was associated with “violent Irish republicanism”.

He told the Belfast Newsletter: “The Equality Commission and other bodies that would adjudicate on impartiality in the workplace have come out and said, down through the years, that there is nothing contentious to do with the poppy. It is not identified with a single section of the community.

“But then we come to the Easter Lily. It is a symbol that is worn by Irish republicans. It is worn to commemorate those who took up arms against British soldiers in the Irish Republic. In more recent times it has become associated with people who supported or gave political cover for a violent Irish republican approach to politics.”

The Easter Lily was created in 1925 by members of Cumann na mBan,  an all female organisation in favour of Irish independence. More about the Easter Lily

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