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Stormont group examining flags and culture submits long-delayed report to Executive Office

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

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 commission set up to examine contentious issues around flags and culture in Northern Ireland has submitted its long-delayed report to the Executive Office, it has been reported.

The Commission on Flags, Identity, Culture and Expression (FICT) was formed in June 2016 via the Fresh Start Agreement to look at issues regarding flags, emblems and identity.

It was due to submit its report in December 2017, however this was delayed due to the collapse of the Executive the following January.

The FICT started meeting again in January of this year with the aim of submitting the report in April, only to be delayed again due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Friday, the BBC reported that the group held their final meeting last week to sign off on the report and it is now in the hands of the Executive Office.

The report is expected to run to around 150 pages and feature a series of recommendations which, according to leaks last year, could include the banning of certain materials, including flags, on bonfires.

Leaks also suggested that Sinn Fein had demanded the tricolour must be flown alongside the Union flag on public buildings - or no flags should be flown at all.

It is unclear when the report will be made public, with an Executive Office spokesperson stating ministers would now "take time to consider any findings and recommendations before deciding on the way forward".

Last year, the BBC reported the FICT has cost the public purse in excess of £730,000 since its formation in June 2016, with more than have of these funds going towards expenses and remuneration for its 15 members, excluding elected representatives.

The FICT is jointly chaired by Queen's University Professor Dominic Bryan and community relations worker Neville Armstrong.

Other members include SDLP councillor Carl Whyte, Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie and former DUP representatives Nelson McCausland and Ian McCrea.

Belfast Telegraph