Flag protocol back for the second year

Banbridge Flags
Banbridge Flags

Banbridge Flags Protocol is to be implemented in the area for a second year but a Nationalist councillor has said he would like to see it ‘achieving more goals’.

The Protocol, an agreement between interested parties to respect and maintain flags during the summer months and the Twelfth celebrations, was launched in 2015.

In a statement the Banbridge Flags Protocol Committee said: “The adoption of the protocol has created a more mature and stabilised approach to the flying of flags and the maintenance of flags in the locality.

“All who agreed to take part in the protocol recognise mutual respect and tolerance are the foundation of creating and maintaining harmonious relationships in the town, and it was gratifying to see the protocol receive positive feedback.”

Under the agreement those who put up flags have been encouraged to place them away from schools and places of worship and to replace tatty flags immediately.

The flags are also to be taken down towards the end of September and early October.

The protocol was drawn up to allow for discussion and rectification of issues and problems. The statement continued: “There were no reported problems in 2015 and all signatories to the protocol have been praised for their attempts to assist in promoting a positive outlook of the town and surrounding areas.”

A new commemorative flag produced by the Loyalist Communities Council in recognition of the service and sacrifice of the 36th (Ulster) Division in this centenary year of the Battle of the Somme, will also feature this year in the town.

The Committee has said it will continue to meet to ensure the smooth running of the protocol. It further reiterated its desire to maintain good relations in the town and to ensure the erection of flags are designed not to intimidate or mark out territory, but celebrate a culture and tradition in a fair and balanced manner.

The statement continued: “The Committee looks forward to another successful year of the protocol and welcomes any and all feedback”.

Meanwhile, Councillor Seamus Doyle said: “It’s good to see flags for different occasions, but they need to be taken down again a few weeks later.

“There have been flags left in Banbridge on the Castlewellan Road from last year, so a lot more could be done.

“Once a celebration is over the flags should be taken down - any sort of flag left up gives the place a bad image.

“I don’t want to knock the work of the protocol committee, but if they could achieve more goals I could more fully support them,” he added.