Belfast Telegraph

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

BY LIAM CLARKE, POLITICAL EDITOR

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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