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Stormont flags group set to submit report in 'next fortnight'

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Flags on a bonfire in Derry

Flags on a bonfire in Derry

Flags on a bonfire in Derry

A Stormont group set up to examine contentious issues around flags and identity in Northern Ireland is set to publish its long-awaited report.

The BBC has reported the Commission on Flags, Identity, Culture & Tradition (FICT) could submit the report within the next fornight.

Set up via the Fresh Start Agreement, the FICT's aim was to address contentious issues surrounding flags, emblems and identity.

While the group's initial report was expected in December 2017, this was delayed by the collapse of the Executive in January of that year.

The FICT began meeting again in January 2020 and had been tasked with submitting the report by April, but this was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It's report is expected to be around 150 pages and feature a series of recommendations around some of the most contentious issues in Northern Ireland.

It's not known when the recommendations will be revealed to the public.

Leaks last year suggested the FICT report's proposals would include the prohibition of certain materials including flags on bonfires and that Sinn Fein had demanded the tricolour must be flown with the Union flag on public buildings or no flags should be flown at all.

Loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson claimed that the commission was planning to introduce new legislation surrounding bonfires which would require an application process.

The BBC reported last year that the FICT has cost more than £730,000 since it was set up in June 2016.

More than half of that money has been spent on expenses and remuneration for its 15 members, excluding elected representatives.

The FICT is co-chaired by community worker Neville Armstrong and Queen's University academic Professor Dominic Bryan and includes members nominated by political parties and others including academics, Orange Order representatives and business leaders.

Other members include UUP MLA Doug Beattie former DUP MLAs Nelson McCausland and Ian McCrea and Belfast SDLP councillor Carl Whyte.

Belfast Telegraph