Appendix 10 (EQIA - The Flying of the Union Flag)
Appendix 10: Response from independent councillor
Please see below my submission in regards to the proposed policy of the flying of the Union Flag:
I agree that the Union Flag should be flown on all Council buildings in a fair and equal manner across the Borough. As things stand, there is not fairness and equality to the Rate paying residents who I represent in Limavady DEA as no flag is flown at any time, however the Union Flag is flown in an official capacity, to varying degrees in other towns across the Borough.
The Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has previously stated that, "Flags are a very British way of expressing joy and pride – they are emotive symbols which can boost local and national identities, strengthen community cohesion and mark civic pride. The government wants to see more flags flown, particularly the Union Flag, the flag of the United Kingdom. It is a symbol of national unity and pride. The government has recently issued guidance encouraging the flying of the Union Flag on all UK government buildings throughout the year, alongside other national and local flags."
I feel that provided the Union Flag is maintained in a condition that does not impair the overall visual appearance of any of the sites proposed and it is kept in a safe and presentable condition, there is no reason why we should not have the flag of the country displayed at our Civic buildings and I see no reason why the rules applicable to GB, should not be applied to Northern Ireland. We are after all, part of the United Kingdom.
There will, undoubtedly be those who do not support the flying if the Union Flag. We do not live in a perfect world and these set of circumstances of disagreement are not new, nor restricted to Northern Ireland. Violent Republicanism has however exasperated the situation and mindsets of citizens over the past 40 odd years. We need to move away from these mindsets and embrace the Nation we live in. The United Kingdom. The United Kingdom that gives us our National Health Service, world class Benefits system, freedom of Civil and Religious Liberty and, ironically, the right to disagree and protest peacefully.
I frequently visit the Republic of Ireland and have no issue what-so-ever seeing the flag of ROI on display in that country. I frequently visit France and Belgium and the situation is the same there. This is what tolerance looks like. Any resistance to the flying of the Union Flag is nothing less that intolerance and mindset needs addressed and corrected if our children are to inherit a fair and equal society.
A flag can not discriminate - only people with discriminative mindsets can do that.
A flag can not intimidate - only people using bombs and guns or other heavy handed approaches can do that.
It has been said that a flag won't put food on the table, yet most people who live in Northern Ireland do indeed have food on the table that wouldn't be there but for the United Kingdom. I feel that is as fair and reasonable an argument to fly the Union Flag as any.
In closing, I would state that if viewed with a fair eye, the Union Flag does not discriminate, nor intimidate. It is a flag that represents three Saints... St Patrick of Ireland, St George of England and St Andrew of Scotland. Each symbol representative of the cross.
I look forward to seeing this discussion settled, having the Union Flag on display officially at all our buildings and getting on with the bread and butter issues that affect all the people who live in our Borough.
Councillor James McCorkell
Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council