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‘Pride gave me courage to come out’ says Alliance councillor who tabled Rainbow flag motion

Councillor Eoin Tennyson

An Ulster Unionist councillor, who supported a motion to flag the Rainbow flag on Pride Day, has hit out at the “politicisation” of the issue.

Newly-elected councillor Louise McKinstry showed her support after her sister joined in a civil partnership earlier this year.

She stated: “We have spoken already tonight about flags and banners and how important they can be.

“I love my sister and our family hate the politicisation of matters such as this.”

Meanwhile, Alliance councillor Eoin Tennyson, who brought forward the motion, revealed how Pride had helped him in “coming out”.

Speaking to the chamber, councillor Tennyson commented: “It gave me the courage to come out after I attended my first Pride parade.

“Pride offers people the chance to be open about who they are and who they love.”

He said that 2019 was a poignant year as it represented 50 years since the Stonewall riots in New York and 25 years since the foundation of the Rainbow Project in Northern Ireland.

The councillor asked that those voting “found it in their heart” to support the motion.

Party colleague Brian Pope, who seconded the motion, commented that he “strongly believed in equality”.

Sinn Fein councillor Darren McNally commended councillor Tennyson for his “brave and open contribution.”

SDLP councillor Thomas O’Hanlon added: “Thank you to councillor Tennyson for sharing his story; we owe it to councillors and staff to say we have your back, be who you are, and be who you want to be.

“People from the LGBTQ community do not have a disease, they are just people, they are friends, sisters, brother, cousins, aunts, uncles and they are staff at the council.”

A total of 38 votes were cast with the motion being passed by 21 votes to 17.

An earlier notice of motion to light up the buildings was brought by Sinn Fein councillor Kevin Savage and seconded by party colleague Garath Keating.

Although this was not debated in great detail, DUP councillor Mark Baxter, said he would not be supporting the motion and called for a vote.

This was carried by 19 votes to 17, with two councillors abstaining.

As a result the Rainbow flag will fly over civic buildings across the ABC Borough on Pride Day this August.

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