22/01/2016

Alliance Launches Consultation To Regulate Unofficial Display Of Flags In Public Spaces

The Alliance Party has launched a consultation on how to regulate the unofficial display of flags in public spaces.

The party said the the practice has had a 'significant cost' to Northern Ireland society.

East Belfast MLA Chris Lyttle revealed the document – entitled 'Celebration, Not Demarcation' – in a bid to help resolve the issue.

Mr Lyttle said: "In a democracy, people may fly flags in order to celebrate and commemorate, provided the event, display and flag are lawful.

"However, their unofficial and aggressive display is often used to mark territory, which has been a recurrent source of tension in many areas and is a significant barrier to ensuring public space is shared and free from intimidation, as well as limiting community and business development.
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"This consultation does not question the right of people to display legal flags from private property, nor would it change the law around flying of flags on public buildings or affect people's ability to fly flags on their own homes.

"But there is a need for a clear, transparent framework to give a time-bound, respectful approach which could create a fairer balance between the right to celebrate events with legal flags and the right of everyone to be safe and welcome.

"The Department for Regional Development has confirmed it has been deterred from removing flags due to threat of violence against staff. As a result, many complaints go unaddressed, with the implicit result that violence defines outcomes. That is clearly not acceptable in any society based on the rule of law."

(CD/JP)

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