The Northern Ireland Executive is “highly unlikely” to do anything on the issue of paramilitary flags, murals, graffiti or emblems before the start of next year, the Alliance Party has claimed.
Despite a unanimous call last September from the Assembly, the Executive has consistently refused to set up a working group to deal with the problem of paramilitary trappings in public places, saying it would be dealt with in the “imminent” community relations strategy.
But that strategy seems highly unlikely to be in place this year. A consultation period of at least eight weeks must run first, and the earliest it can finish is the end of October, even assuming it begins on the first day the Assembly meets after recess.
Alliance person said: “The Executive is committed to producing a community relations strategy by the end of this year, according to its own Programme for Government. But that all depends on Ministers reaching early agreement on the document during November and December.”
“Given the Executive’s previous efforts at reaching agreement on how to deal with problems like sectarianism, it will be a miracle if there is any progress on dealing with terrorist flags, murals, graffiti, emblems or memorials this year.”
“The public is crying out for the Executive to take on sectarianism and its manifestations, but rather than deal with one of our society’s fundamental problems, it is constantly put on the long finger.”
“It is absolutely vital that a strategy is in place as soon as possible, so that the public does not have to endure another summer of paramilitary flags being stuck to every lamppost.”