22/05/2018

Loyalist Groups Agree Rules Over Flags

A number of self-imposed rules on flags have been issued by the East Belfast Community Initiative (ECMI).

The new rules have been established by the loyalist group, reportedly linked to the UVF, ahead of this years marching season and come into affect at midnight tonight, 22 May.

The ECMI rules include:

• Flags to be erected on 01 June and removed as soon as practicable following 28 September (Ulster Day) but no later than 07 October

• Tattered, torn or otherwise damaged flags to be removed and/or replaced at the earliest opportunity

• Only legal flags to be erected on public lamposts

• Flags, kept in good condition, to be flown 365 days a year from memorials, murals or other areas of commemoration

It is understood that the aim of the new rules is to "implement a positive cultural expression protocol in relation to the flying of flags for 2018".
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A statement issued by the ECMI, reads: "This is an extremely positive step by the groups, who have agreed to self regulate to ensure that our culture is displayed in the best possible manner.

"We are not blind to the contrived attempts by groups fronted up by arms length Sinn Fein activists to make every aspect of unionist culture contentious.

"The EBCI will always engage positively in any discussions that will further our objective of protecting unionist cultural expression, and it is our firm belief that this protocol provides the framework for advancing that objective.

"We are proud of the sacrifice of our community throughout Two World Wars and numerous other conflicts and we specifically remember with pride the Ulster Volunteer Force 1912 and 36th Ulster Division which sacrificed so much to ensure the freedom and British way of life that we enjoy today.

"We reaffirm our commitment to the rule of law, and it is in this context that we have obtained voluntary agreement that only legal flags will be erected by those loyalists associated with EBCI.

"We would hope that this commitment will be widely welcomed and we look forward to a peaceful summer of positive cultural celebration."

(MH/LM)

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