I woke at some stage over the weekend to be greeted by flegs outside my window. Not happy flegs – but the offensive, intimidating variety. ‘Spirit of Drumcree’, UDA and, less controversially, The Union and I think a NI soccer fleg. Unlike election posters, these symbols will remain until September. The “Marching Season” is upon us….
[File pic: Loyalist protesters burn a tricolour at Belfast City Hall in December 2012]
The flying of the Irish tricolour on government buildings has been ruled out by Richard Haass. The former US diplomat is heading a team attempting to resolve the issues of parades, flags and the past. It is understood his proposals include a licensing system for the flying of flags, a trauma centre and new bodies for dealing with parading and the past.
He appears to have ruled out the flying of the Irish tricolour on government buildings but backed designated days for flying the union flag. Dr Haass will meet the parties individually on Friday morning and there will be a round table session in the afternoon.
A new Northern Ireland flag should be created to complement the Union Flag – but flying the Irish Tricolour would probably see Stormont collapse, a unionist veteran has said.
Lord Kilclooney, who was first elected to the old Stormont in 1965 and served as a minister under both James Chichester-Clark and Brian Faulkner, warned that any attempt to fly the Republic of Ireland’s flag north of the border would be deeply destabilising.
“As a result of the Belfast Agreement the people of the Republic of Ireland voted to abandon their territorial claim over Northern Ireland. To now fly the Tricolour officially would be contrary to that decision and would undermine the Agreement, leading probably to the collapse of the Northern Ireland Assembly.”
“Well you know I find it very rich that an American would tell us to think about a new fleg flag how they actually bow down to their flag. You know, from my point of view, you know, the Union Jack is the national flag of the country. I am British and I live in Britain. So, I don’t want to see a new flag or do I want to even be involved in trying to create one.”
Current PUP leader and former UVF member Billy Hutchinson with Noel Thompson on BBC One’s Spotlight last night.