Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Belfast Telegraph Poll 2013: Poles apart on thorny issue of flag-flying

A Union Flag protest at Belfast City Hall in March. Loyalists have been protesting since the start of December last year over Belfast City Council's vote to only flay the Union Flag on certain days.
A Union Flag protest at Belfast City Hall in March. Loyalists have been protesting since the start of December last year over Belfast City Council's vote to only flay the Union Flag on certain days.

Flag-flying has polarised opinion for most of the year.

Yet it is worth noting that more than a fifth of people (22.5%) didn't feel strongly enough to express a view, according to our poll.

The least popular option was the present situation by which individual councils make their decisions on flags. This may show a desire for a unified approach to avoid political disputes.

The current situation is favoured by only 7.9% of respondents or 10.1% of those who gave an opinion on the issue.

The most popular alternative by a narrow margin was that all councils should fly the Union flag, but only on designated days.

That was supported by just under a quarter of the population (22.5%), or 29% of those who expressed a preference.

Designated days across the board is the option commanding most cross-community support, with 30% of Catholics and 24% of Protestants backing it.

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If this solution was adopted, the Union flag would be flown on 18 days a year to mark State occasions in both unionist and nationalist-controlled councils.

Currently, most nationalist authorities don't fly it at all while most unionist ones keep it on permanent display.

Flying civic flags is sometimes suggested as a compromise, but that was supported by only one in seven people (14.1%) and had more traction amongst Catholics (19.1%) than Protestants (11.5%).

The permanent display option – that is flying the flag every day – was fairly popular (21.2% or 27.3% of those expressing an opinion), but received very little cross-community buy-in.

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