A welcome for flag protocol

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Nationalist councillors have welcomed the official launch of a Banbridge District Flag protocol last week as ‘a step in the right direction’.

The event, organised by Banbridge District Flag Protocol Committee, was held in Banbridge Orange Hall, and outlined guidance on the flying of flags locally.

SDLP councillor, Seamus Doyle said: “I have nothing against people wanting to fly flags or to have celebrations - if they want to fly flags that’s no problem but once the occasion is over I do feel the flags should be taken down again.

“I don’t want to say don’t fly flags, but I do feel they should be flown properly.

“Flying flags from places such as lamp-posts, just degrades the place.”

Meanwhile Sinn Fein councillor, Brendan Curran said: “I would welcome the reports that an effort is being made to install protocols in relation to flag flying.

“Whilst I would have to see the full document to take an informed view, I would hope this could be a step in the right direction.”

“Ultimately all sections of the community have a role, a responsibility and an input to make in the discussion around the displaying of flags and emblems.

“There is a need for these conversations to continue within communities and across communities.

“Whilst we welcome any step in the right direction we maintain the view that flags should never be flown to mark out territory and areas such as town centres should be free of flags.”

The six page protocol was drawn up with the full backing of various community groups, local politicians, and band and flag supporters from within the PUL community.

It set in place an agreed timetable for flags to go up and come down and to maintain the flags in the event of them becoming tatty. The protocol also promotes harmonious working relationships and assisting each estate or area that subscribes to the protocol.

Some of the Banbridge Town areas covered included Seapatrick, Cline Road, Huntly and the Castlewellan Road as well as the old Newry Road and Rathfriland Road.

Local politicians from the main Unionist parties together with representatives from the PUP, UPRG and the ACT initiative outlined the protocol to the audience of over 70 participants and feedback pointed to broad agreement. A yearly review is planned.