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Kelly calls for new approach to flag flying

25 June, 2009 - by Gerry Kelly

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly today called on all communities to begin respecting flags and emblems and to end the practice of using them to intimidate and cause offence.

Mr Kelly said:

“Particularly over the summer months flags and sectarian emblems are draped from lamp posts across the north. This is not about expressing culture. In the main it is designed to mark out territory and to intimidate and cause offence.

“Clearly the majority of flags erected, though not exclusively, are by those from within the unionist community. This includes the British Union Jack, the unionist Ulster flag and various loyalist paramilitary flags. This situation cannot go on without challenge. And I do not discriminate on this. The flying of the Irish National Flag in response to this or indeed as an act of political provocation is equally as unacceptable. The National flag should be treated with respect. We have also seen abuses of the Palestinian National flag. Quite simply flags should not be erected in town centres or mixed areas in this way and those which are should be removed.

“We are continually told that this is an expression of culture. Frankly that is nonsense.
I would certainly like to know how tattered and threadbare flags flying outside businesses, churches and houses where they are not wanted is a display of culture. Making communities more neutral and accommodating to all is in no way a dilution of culture. Indeed the opposite is the case.
“Resolving this issue requires both strong political leadership and effective policing. To date unionist political leaders have at best ignored the issue. The PSNI response has been ineffective. As this society moves forward that is no longer a tenable position. Sinn Féin are committed to using our influence positively. Others must now do likewise.” ENDS

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