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Northern Ireland councils should regulate flying of flags


Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw (Write Back, June 29) suggests that flags flown on street furniture need to be properly regulated. I quite agree. I should add that they would not be tolerated anywhere else in the UK.

Last week, I visited London, as I was invited to give an organ recital at St George's Church, Hanover Square, during the Mayfair organ concerts. I stayed for three nights at my club, Royal Overseas League, St James. During my stay, there was a special talk on heraldry for club members, given by the Richmond Herald of the College of Arms, Dr Clive Cheesman. Afterwards, there was a question-and-answer session.

For a general discussion, I raised the thorny issue of the flying of flags in Northern Ireland on street furniture, which attracted both amusement and eyes to heaven among members, guests and the herald.

The general outcome of the discussion on flags was that, really, it is very poor form indeed to fly any flag at all on street furniture and, in fact, in England there are numerous council planning and by-laws prohibiting such displays.

The proper means of flying flags has already been established by the UK Flag Institute, which recommends only flagpoles and says flags should never be flown from residential properties or street furniture.

In order to bring in the same regulations here, the Assembly would have to enact similar local government legislation to enable local councils to prohibit the erection of flags.

As we are currently stuck with the DUP-Sinn Fein coalition of chaos, it is unlikely that any progress will be made to address the flag problem.

However, my brother, a QC at Doughty Chambers in London, informs me that concerned residents in Northern Ireland can have flags removed by a court order. Under this, anyone found subsequently re-erecting a flag will be subject to contempt of court and could be prosecuted.


Strangford, Co Down

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