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Making progress on issue of flag flying

The recent stance taken by the Loyalist Communities Council (LCC) calling for flags commemorating the Somme to be taken down at the end of a specified period offers at least a basis for a way forward on ensuring flags and emblems become symbols of commemoration and, where appropriate, celebration, rather than intimidation.

The LCC's protocol was a particular flag would be flown for a particular purpose over a specific time frame. Even where others may dispute the purpose and time frame, there does need to be room in society for different groups to commemorate events of genuine historical relevance. What is needed is a degree of clarity about how this is to be done.

The question now is whether we should use the protocol, agreed in this case well beyond loyalism, as a way forward in legislation for flags and emblems to be flown in a clearly communicated, respectful and time-bound manner?

I look forward to consulting across the community in the coming months as to whether and how this can best be done, making sure to build upon progress already made.

Paula Bradshaw MLA


South Belfast

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