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Stormont flags body given 'too big a brief', says chair

Flags and murals have long been a contentious issue in Northern Ireland
Flags and murals have long been a contentious issue in Northern Ireland

A Stormont body set up to examine flags and culture in Northern Ireland was given "too big a brief", according to one of its chairs.

The Commission on Flags, Identity, Culture and Tradition was set up in June 2016 and was due to report back on the issue 18 months later - however it has not yet published its findings.

Queen's University academic Professor Dominic Bryan, a co-chair of the commission, which has so far cost £750,000, said the body grew to not only examined murals and flags, but also wider culture and identity issues.

Speaking on BBC's The View programme, he said the commission was possibly given "too big a brief".

"We took on a very large task and I think if anyone saw the brief we had they would realise it was large," he said.

"We were not only taking on issue like flags, memorials, murals - we were also looking at wider issues the general public had asked us to look at such as media, sport and the education system. Maybe it was too big a brief.

"That took us over our time, and then of course we ended up with no government, so there was no pressure and no one to give a report to."

Prof Bryan said the body had gathered a significant amount of material and authored 13 "draft papers" which were circulated to political parties, but they could not find agreement on "key issues".

Last week, the commission met for the first time in six months, however Prof Bryan said there is a "whole lot of stuff on pause" and the body has been "frustrated" as many of the issues it has been examining have been included in the current Stormont talks process.

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