NI leaders 'close' to flag agreement

Published Wednesday, 08 May 2013
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A solution to the contentious issue of flags in Northern Ireland is just weeks away, according to the First and deputy First Ministers.

NI leaders 'close' to flag agreement
Peter robinson and Martin McGuinness (© UTV)

The flying or not flying of flags has been at the heart of much tension, particularly since the decision late last year to limit the presence of the Union flag on Belfast City Hall to designated days.

Further controversy has been caused by the announcement earlier this week that £10,000 of public money is to be spent on flag poles to display more Union flags on Department of Finance buildings.

Speaking on Wednesday, DUP leader and First Minister Peter Robinson admitted flags were a "sensitive issue" for both sides of the community.

"We have proposals in terms of how we should proceed with this issue, which we will announce in due course - hopefully within the next few weeks," he said.

Sinn Féin deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness added: "We appear to be very close to agreeing a way forward of how we should put in place a mechanism to deal with that issue.

"And I think it is best left at that."

Neither minister would be drawn on exactly what the proposals might entail.

The initial decision to restrict the flying of the Union flag at Belfast City Hall sparked outrage among unionists and resulted in months of protests - many of which descended into street riots.

However, the decision by the Department of Finance to erect more flagpoles has prompted Sinn Féin to seek legal advice and brand the move "deliberately provocative".

© UTV News
Comments Comments
29 Comments
Ulysses32 in Belfast wrote (471 days ago):
Dear or dear, Mark. Still spouting that nonsense. Forgetting about the thousands of leaflets being issued to incite the sheep and scaremonger you about the fleg being "ripped" down, are we? There has been a lot of whinging, moping, violence, mayhem, etc. from Onionists since December I can tell you that for nothing. Shame on them for raising tensions and promoting hatred and intolerance.
Mark in NI wrote (473 days ago):
SF/SDLP started the provocation at city hall, no amount of whinging and crying will change that. Shame on them for raising tensions and promoting hatred and intolerance.
S.B. in Belfast wrote (475 days ago):
Certain sectarian elements have stoked this flag issue for their own sinister, bigoted agenda. Most people I know, from both sides, couldn't really give a stuff about flags and roll their eyes whenever it comes up. Most of us are too busy trying to make ends meet and get through the month without getting into more debt to waste time on this nonsense. Those who stir it up are either Loyalist 'community workers' who get big grants from the NIO; are in the DUP and are panicking; have too much time time on their hands or probably don't work.
Brendan in Eglinton wrote (475 days ago):
Ban all flying of flags from lamp posts. Talk about dogs pissing to mark their territory, it's about time this was outlawed...Pathetic leadership is the problem.
Vee in Belfast wrote (475 days ago):
For once - norman.d in bangor - I agree with you. It is high time our MLAs started debating proper issues instead of mucking around with our lives and talking about flags!
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