Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Flags 'subject to state regulation'

Alliance Party leader David Ford called for all the parties at Stormont to commit immediately to an 'open and inclusive process'
Loyalist protesters on their way to Belfast City Hall
Loyalist protestors pictured at Belfast City Hall

The flying of national flags from lampposts in Northern Ireland should be subject to state regulation, with zero tolerance of paramilitary symbols, a new community relations blueprint from the Alliance party has recommended.

The proposals also call on the Executive to agree to fly the Union Flag from public and civic buildings on designated days.

The introduction of that policy at Belfast City Hall triggered the loyalist protests that have been witnessed in Northern Ireland over the last two months.

The call for an agreed stance on the Union flag and the introduction of statutory rules on when and how all national flags can be flown on highways form one part of Alliance's vision for the future.

The party claims it has produced the document in response to Executive inaction on community relations, citing the much-delayed Cohesion, Sharing and Integration (CSI) strategy.

Last year, the party withdrew from an Assembly group examining the CSI, insisting the issue was not being dealt with properly.

Its own version of the strategy has set an aspiration to see at least one in every five children educated in an integrated school by 2020.

Alliance Party leader David Ford called for all the parties at Stormont to commit immediately to an "open and inclusive process" to deliver an effective strategy.

"Building a shared future in Northern Ireland is the biggest challenge facing our political institutions and wider civic society," he said.

"This challenge has been clear for many years, but has now been brought into even sharper focus by recent events on our streets."

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