“In an opinion column by Victoria White on Jan 10 last, comments were made about Naomi Long, the Alliance Party MP for East Belfast, and quoted her as stating that she had called the union flag “a piece of cloth” during an RTÉ Prime Time debate.
“We accept that this passage in the column quoted Ms Long out of context.
“We accept that Ms Long stated that the flag stood for more than just its fabric and that members of her family had fought during the Second World War for the democratic values and principles it represented, including freedom of expression and diversity of opinion, but also opposition to fascism and violent interference with the democratic process.
“We also accept that she clearly acknowledged that the Alliance Party recognised the issue of the union flag and expressions of identity were sensitive and emotive issues. She was at no point dismissive of the union flag or those who support it in the way the quote attributed to her might suggest.
“We apologise to Ms Long for any upset or misunderstanding that this article may have caused her and we are happy to set the record straight and pay her legal costs.”