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One year on, flags’ commission report is the only thing not on display this summer

3 11 0

You can’t eat a flag,” John Hume famously said. What about a report on flags, though? It is five years since the Commission on Flags, Identity, Culture and Tradition (FICT) was established by the First and Deputy First Minister and a year since it submitted its report. But the FM and DFM appear to have eaten the Commission’s homework.

This was a commission you paid for, at a cost exceeding £800,000. Enough for a flagpole on every house. Wonder how many Executive ministers would spend their own money on a no-refund present not far shy of a million pounds and then discard the gift?

Have you read the final report? No? You are not alone. It’s not FICTion, despite the title. But we still await its release. But if you happen to be up at Stormont passing the offices of the FM and DFM, you will find it there. Being used as a doorstop, presumably.

The FICT Commission addressed big challenges. The loyalist flags protest a decade ago saw serious disorder after the Union flag’s presence atop Belfast city hall was reduced to designated days only. Having supported the change, Alliance found its party offices attacked.

Those riots and demonstrations petered out, but there remains little consensus over displays of flags. As we enter the summer marching season, the lamppost decorators will return. Woe betide those who intervene.

The commission’s creation reflected the lack of consensus on the issue. Former US special envoy Richard Haass endured his worst-ever New Year’s Eve when his talks on flags and........

© Belfast Telegraph

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