Erin go bragh maybe, but no flag for Irish pub in Florida

Fri Mar 8, 2013 1:32pm EST

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(Reuters) - The owners of an Irish pub in northeast Florida said they were shocked to receive a citation for flying the Irish flag but have removed it to comply with a local ordinance banning commercial display of non-U.S. flags.

The four sisters who own Culhane's Irish Pub in Atlantic Beach said Friday they would apply for a temporary permit allowing them to at least fly the green, white and orange Irish flag on St. Patrick's Day, March 17.

"St. Patrick's Day is huge for us," said Aine Culhane, who owns the pub with sisters Mary Jane, Michelle and Lynda.

They showed Reuters a copy of a citation issued by code enforcement officers for the City of Atlantic Beach on February 20, giving them 24 hours to "cease display of flags other than American flag."

The Culhanes said they had flown an Irish flag and an American flag on the front of their pub for eight years and were unaware of the ordinance.

"I couldn't believe it," Aine Culhane said. "We never break the law. We were just shocked and kind of sad that we couldn't hang the flag ... Everybody is upset about it."

City officials did not immediately return phone and email messages seeking comment. Acting Mayor Maria Mark told television station WTLV that the city council was reconsidering the ordinance but she doubted any changes could be approved before St. Patrick's Day.

The Culhane sisters are from Shanagolden in County Limerick and have owned the pub since 2005. Michelle and Mary Jane are naturalized U.S. citizens and Lynda and Aine are in the United States on visas, they said.

"We're definitely living the American dream. We love it here. We're proof that anybody can do it We came here knowing no one," Aine said.

But being forced to remove the flag of their homeland was an insult, Michelle said.

"The large contingent of Irish immigrants who fought for this country in numerous wars cannot be treated like this," she said. "Our flag is woven from the fabric of many proud nations and should never be discounted by the pettiness of a few narrow minded council members."

(Editing by David Adams)

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Comments (4)
WildBillWB wrote:
I’m guessing the “undocumented workers” in my town will still be able to keep their flag of Mexico drapes unless you want to classify one renter with 15 guests as a commercial venture.

Mar 08, 2013 5:11pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Publius87 wrote:
Sounds like a pretty clear content-based violation of the First Amendment if one flag is allowed and another is not. You should contact your local ACLU or similar organization to see about a challenge to this. Narrow minded bureaucrats should not be allowed to get away with this nonsense.

Mar 09, 2013 8:37am EST  --  Report as abuse
Eideard wrote:
Good ol’ ‘Murican understanding of the First Amendment means nothing in Floriduh.

Mar 11, 2013 6:24pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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