East Belfast MLA Chris Lyttle revealed the document – entitled ‘Celebration, Not Demarcation’ – in a bid to help resolve the issue, which statutory agencies to date have failed to address in a fair and respectful way.
“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.
“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.
“The recent Northern Ireland Life and Times survey showed three out of four people, from all sections of the community, did not support flag-flying in their neighbourhood. Simply doing nothing is no longer an option – that’s why we need an alternative.”
Where there is a request to display flags in a public space or on public property other than Government buildings, Alliance proposes:
The consultation will launch on Monday, January 25, 2016 and will be available at allianceparty.org/page/celebration-not-demarcation-consultation. It closes on Monday, March 21, 2016.