Irish flag banned from Strabane St Patrick's Day parade

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image captionThe council said the Strabane celebrations would have a similar family friendly focus to the St Patrick's Day Carnival in Derry

The Irish flag will not be included in official St Patrick's Day celebrations in Strabane, organisers have confirmed.

Derry City and Strabane District Council (DCSDC) said they wanted the event to be a cross community, family-focused celebration.

It is the first time the local council has organised the event in the Co Tyrone town since its inception in 2015.

The council has confirmed "flags and emblems" will not feature this year.

About £30,000 of funding has been allocated to the Strabane parade that will follow a shorter route than in previous years.

The council was delighted to "support the extension of the St Patrick's Day Carnival festivities in Strabane", said a DCSDC spokeswoman.

She said the plans were in line with a paper approved by the council's Business and Culture committee.

"Therefore flags and emblems will not be included in the official parade which is planned for the enjoyment of everyone," she said.

"Council is committed to promoting inclusion and integration within and between communities in all its activities, events and programmes."

Independent councillor Paul Gallagher said the plans were a departure from previous community-led celebrations in Strabane, at which flags were "very much welcome."

Mr Gallagher said the changes were as a result of council officials' "interpretation of legislation."

"As a councillor, I will be bringing it into the chamber, that we change the interpretation that council is using," he added.