Last week in his column, Eoghan Harris attributed to Naomi Long, the East Belfast Alliance MP, the words “just a meaningless piece of cloth,” in relation to the Union Flag and suggested on the strength of this that she had no feel for the Unionist tradition.
We accept that she did not state that the flag was “meaningless” or refer to it in derogatory or dismissive terms nor did she introduce this phrase. In fact, what Ms Long actually said was: “I have family who fought in the Second World War. I know that they fought, not for a piece of material, but they fought for values ?they fought for values and principles, they fought against fascism, they fought against violent interference with the democratic process, they fought for freedom of expression, difference of opinion. They didn’t fight for a coloured piece of cloth.”
That characterisation of Ms Long, based on a misreading of the discussion she was taking part in, was inaccurate and unfair, and for that we apologise and have agreed to meet her legal costs.