City Hall joins jolly green giants

By Staff Reporter

A POWERFUL City Council committee has voted in favour of a proposal to turn Belfast City Hall green over next year’s St Patrick’s Day weekend.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Development Committee, councillors voted in favour of using the City Hall’s sophisticated lighting system to turn the iconic building green in honour of Ireland’s patron saint.

Last August, in the wake of the success of last year’s March 17 city centre celebrations, City Hall officers were commissioned by councillors to come up with new ideas for 2013. Among a raft of ideas they brought forward was one to bathe the building in green light. As St Patrick’s Day falls on a Sunday next year, it was proposed that the building be turned green for the duration of the weekend.

Sinn Féin, SDLP and Alliance Party votes saw the proposal passed, but it was opposed by unionists stung by the prospect of the Council’s Policy and Resources Committee voting tomorrow (Friday) in favour of ending the flying of the union flag on City Hall 365 days a year. The Alliance Party have expressed their intention to vote in favour of flying the union flag only on a designated number of days, but they have come under intense pressure from the UUP and the DUP to reverse their decision. Ironically, it’s believed that a controversial leaflet drop last week might have stiffened the resolve of the Alliance Party who accused unionists of bullying in the wake of the distribution of 40,000 leaflets in Alliance Party colours urging people to contact the party and express their opposition to their decision to back the flag change.

Turning iconic sites and buildings green on St Patrick’s Day has long been a tradition, but it’s rapidly taking hold in some of the most unexpected places, even if it’s opposed by some in Ireland’s second city.

Among the buildings that turn green in honour of the Irish are the CN Tower in  Toronto, the Empire State Building in New York, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Sydney Opera House, the London Eye and Selfridges department store in London and the Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai.

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