Belfast flags: Councillors recommend public consultation

An Ulster Volunteer Force flag hanging from a lamp post in Belfast Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Most councillors want the Department for Infrastructure to remove paramilitary flags from lamp posts

An all-party Belfast City Council committee has recommended a city-wide public consultation on what flags should be flown, where and when.

Councillors met at Belfast City Hall on Friday to discuss the removal of paramilitary flags from the city.

The council attempted to take action during the summer, but stepped back after receiving legal advice.

Most of the complaints in the Belfast area have been about loyalist paramilitary flags.

Analysis: Flag poll?

What’s being planned is not a referendum on flags in Belfast, more of an opinion poll.

Which flags should be taken down, which should stay up, where flags are appropriate, where they’re not?

Unionists opposed the consultation, saying it would increase tensions. But it was supported by Sinn Féin, the SDLP and the Alliance Party.

The consultation is expected to begin in December or January.

In July, councillors voted to take a case against Stormont’s Department for Infrastructure over its refusal to remove paramilitary flags from its property – lamp posts, for example.

The Sinn Féin motion was passed by 34 votes to 18, with unionist councillors opposing the move.

However, no legal action was taken at that time.

A council spokesman said: “Members of Belfast City Council’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee today agreed to consult with members of the public on the presence of flags and banners in the city.

“A format and details of this public consultation will be discussed a future Strategic Policy and Resources Committee.

“The decision of the committee is subject to ratification by full council when it next meets in October.”

Source: bbc.co.uk

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