Flags report a recipe for devolving Belfast disruption

A report commissioned by Dr Paul Nolan of QUB’s Education Faculty and Dr Dominic Bryan, director of the university’s School of Irish Studies has suggested that all councils in NI should fly the Union flag on council buildings 18 days per year, in an attempt to try and solve the identity crisis local government has been plunged into since the Belfast City Council decision in 2012 to fly the Union flag on designated days only.

Whilst this may sound like a rational and adult solution to a deeply divisive social issue, what in fact it will do is move the focus of the flags and identity debacle from Belfast and a few other Councils, to every Council chamber in the region.

Imagine for example Derry and Strabane District Council, an area with a huge Nationalist majority, being ordered to fly the Union flag from Council buildings 18 days of the year.  Cities such as Derry often struggle with divisive parades, and inter-community tension at certain times of the year can boil over into sporadic violence, what then would this report, if implemented do to the fragile truce that often hangs over Derry, Tyrone and parts of Fermanagh?

This report is sound academic work, backed up by a Lucid poll, but it is simply a non-starter when it comes to how these issues are addressed on the ground in our communities.

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