The Alliance Party has restated its position on flag flying at Council buildings, saying the Executive should legislate for the flying of the Union Flag at each Council headquarters on designated days.
The Party has also revealed it has written to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) – the body responsible for selecting official designated days – to press for the July 1, Somme anniversary to be added to the list of designated days.
Councillor Maire Hendron, Group Leader on Belfast City Council, said: “The Alliance Party stands firmly behind its longstanding policy of flying the Union Flag at Council Headquarters on designated days and is calling for the Executive to legislate for this as a requirement on all Councils.
“As we move forward in building a shared future for everyone, we believe this policy provides the best opportunity to enhance community relations. As RPA legislation is currently developing, now is an ideal opportunity to deliver this policy and bring the on-going arguments over flag flying by local Councils to an end.
“In the absence of Northern Ireland-wide regulation on flags, any additions to the current number of designated days should be sought through DCMS. The Somme anniversary is one day Alliance believes should be added as an important mark of respect, reflected across our community. The 36th Ulster Division, the 16th Irish Division and other Irish regiments suffered exceptionally heavy losses during the Somme Campaign and the anniversary is publicly marked at the Belfast Cenotaph and other Services of Remembrance across Northern Ireland.
“My Party has already written to DCMS to request that July 1, be added to the calendar of designated days on a routine basis, but importantly ahead of the Centenary of the Battle of the Somme in 2014. Our request is that the addition should be either specifically for Northern Ireland or across the United Kingdom as a whole.
“Alliance will continue to lobby DCMS to ensure this date is added. However we must set a precedent by achieving this change through the proper DCMS channel and not just on a date-by-date vote by individual local Council groups.”