Public To Have Their Say On Flag Flying In Belfast

People across Belfast are set to have their say on the city's flag protocol, councillors have agreed.

An all-party meeting of the council's Strategic Policy and Resources Committee took the decision this morning, Friday 20 September, following a summer of controversy about what banners and flags should be flown.

While the decision must be ratified by full council next month, members of the public will soon be given the chance to have their voice heard on the matter.

The issue was heightened in recent months when emblems purporting to support Soldier F, a former British paratrooper facing prosecution for murder and attempted murder on Bloody Sunday, appeared in loyalist areas across the city.

Sinn Fein proposed a motion in July to take legal action against the Department for Infrastructure to force the removal of flags from council property, such as lampposts.
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The motion was passed by 34 votes to 18, with unionist councillors opposing it, however no legal action was taken at the time.

Alliance Councillor Emmet McDonough-Brown proposed the motion to open the issue of flags on public property up to consultation.

"The unregulated and illegal flying of flags from lampposts is without doubt a significant issue for a lot of people living and working in Belfast, judging by the volume of correspondence we receive as elected representatives," the Botanic councillor said.

"Flags are often displayed as symbols of marking territory in the community, intimidating residents and visitors, and can even impact businesses' ability to trade. However, a shared future does not mean a neutral, nondescript future. The right to display legal emblems and flags in a safe and respectful manner is a legitimate way to express your culture.

"Therefore we need to get the views of the public on this issue. It is not good enough for the Council to attempt to take action on an ad hoc basis as flags go up."

Full details of the consultation will be released at a later date.


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