herald

Saturday 22 September 2018

I ditched Irish flag but I'm a patriot, says Avril

PRESIDENTIAL hopeful Avril Doyle asked for a tricolour to be removed from a church for her daughter's wedding.

The former MEP took exception to the flying of the Irish flag over a Wexford church -- but has insisted that her patriotism cannot be called into question.

Her demands for the tricolour to be removed sparked controversy in 2007 when her daughter Christine married Englishman Glen Howitt in St Patrick's and St Bridget's Church.

Local people complained about the move with some expressing anger that the Irish flag and a Papal flag were taken down.

The Catholic Church pointed out there is no tradition in Ireland of "placing flags in churches, although it may occasionally happen".

Ms Doyle's spokesman told the Herald today that the controversy has been left behind her a long time ago.

"I think Avril's patriotism speaks for itself in the context of her speech in the European parliament about UKIP," he told the Herald.

"It's not at all credible to suggest she is not a patriot," the spokesman added.

He also pointed to her famous attack on the UK Independence Party (UKIP) for using a tricolour as a table cloth in a pub.

At the time she told the Herald that they made up a "motley crew" who had no right to abuse the Irish flag.

She was widely praised for the attack which followed Ireland's rejection of the Lisbon Treaty. UKIP members were photographed using the Irish tricolour as a beer mat and to hold an ash tray as they celebrated the result.

Ms Doyle described the "gang" of UKIP members as "little Britain at its worst".

In a famous speech to the European Parliament, she fumed: "How the history books could have been written differently, if respect for the Irish vote from some of our British colleagues was always there."

Defending her decision on flags over churches, Ms Doyle has said: "It was my personal call as I believe there is no place in church for flags of any kind. Having got permission, we removed both the tricolour and the Vatican flag from the altar for the wedding ceremony."

She is currently hoping to secure the Fine Gael nomination to contest the presidential election despite tough competition from Pat Cox, Mairead McGuinness and Gay Mitchell.

comurphy@herald.ie

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