The Alliance group leader on Belfast City Council has said her party will not be bullied into how it votes on any issue, including the upcoming flag debate at Belfast City Hall next month.
Over the past two weeks leaflets have been posted through doors across Belfast containing false information and untrue allegations aimed at misleading the public on what has been a long-term Alliance policy.
Councillor Maire Hendron said: “I am absolutely disgusted at the level some of my counterparts on Belfast City Council have stooped to on this matter. I know the DUP and the UUP are behind these leaflets, manipulating voters across Belfast by creating unnecessary anger and fear.
“These leaflets are in poor taste and full of wrong information. A public consultation was carried out into the future of the flag, but these figures are yet to be released. I certainly don’t have access to them so I find it hard to understand how the so-called findings have been published in this way.
“I cannot be clearer when I say the Alliance Party has not formed a pact with Sinn Fein or the SDLP over the future of the flag at Belfast City Hall. For the DUP and the UUP to say otherwise is untrue, irresponsible and is causing tensions to grow ahead of the meeting next month.
“If it is the intention of Sinn Fein to remove the flag permanently this certainly not something the Alliance Party would support.
“The Alliance Party has always had a policy of designated days when it comes to flying the Union Flag over the City Hall. Not only is this the status quo at Stormont – where the DUP’s MLAs make no complaint -but it is in line with the recommendation of the Equality Commission. We believe to fly the flag as an important symbol on certain days makes it a stronger emblem for our city.
“It is unacceptable that these parties believe they are above the democratic process and can bully and abuse their position to achieve their goals. Staff at both Alliance Party headquarters and our East Belfast office have been subjected to many calls, many abusive and nasty.
“I would like a full apology from those behind this outrageous attack on the Alliance Party. Constituents across Belfast also deserve an apology as they should expect better from elected representatives.”