ARDS and North Down councillors have voted to fly flags from war memorials all year round.

But the move may not stay in place for long, as it’s likely the decision would be called in by its opponents and fail a resulting supermajority vote – as happened earlier this year when the issue last reared its head.

Unionists pushed through the year-round flags move at the council’s Corporate Services Committee on Tuesday night, by a majority of six votes.

That decision still has to be ratified by a full council meeting next week, during which non-Unionist council members could mount a challenge and attempt to have it overturned.

It also has to be run through equality tests, which could take months – assuming it isn’t called in and scrapped first, as Unionists make up 60% of the council, which is nowhere near enough to pass a supermajority vote by themselves.

This week Unionists predicted that the move would be called in again, but insisted their opponents should ‘respect the democratic will’ of that 60% of councillors.

However, Unionists were in turn accused of trying to use war memorials and Remembrance services as a weapon to score political points.

At the start of this year, Alliance called in a previous attempt to fly the flag from all 13 war memorials as well as all council-owned buildings for 356 days a year.

That resulted in the year-round move failing a supermajority vote, while angry Unionists staged a flags protest outside Bangor City Hall – but Alliance have gained two seats on the council since then, making their position even stronger.

Currently flags are mainly only flown from war memorials for a fortnight around November’s Remembrance services.

During Tuesday night’s debate, Unionists pointed out that civic buildings aren’t part of the new bid, and suggested that Alliance and other non-Unionists shouldn’t have any issues with the UK’s flag flying over memorials to the country’s war dead.

“It is fitting and respectful that flags fly all year round,” said independent councillor Wesley Irvine. “I believe it would be popular with the people of this borough.”

DUP alderman Stephen McIlveen said Alliance should ‘respect the views of the majority’ of the council and the area, while UUP alderman Philip Smith said: “It is only appropriate that the flag people fought and died under is flown above [their names] as a mark of respect.”

However, Alliance councillor Martin McRandal reminded the committee that his party has a policy only flying the flag on designated days, before accusing Unionists of trying to politicise war memorials and Remembrance services.

“Alliance treats the union flag with respect, not to score political points,” he said. “We believe this is a political move and cannot support it.

“Flying the union flag at Remembrance events serves to highlight the significance of the period; flying the flag permanently could risk undermining this.”

Mr McRandal also pointed out that in 2013 the British Legion objected to a Belfast City Council bid to fly the flag from its city hall cenotaph all year round, on the grounds that ‘the Remembrance garden is sacrosanct and should not be politicised’.

And Alliance alderman Lorna McAlpine stated that many descendants of Ulster’s First World War dead do not come from a community that identifies with the union flag.

The committee passed the year-round bid by 10 votes in favour to four against.