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Rivals criticise UUP proposals for flags, parading and the past

Loyalists and their supporters celebrate as they walk free from Belfast's Laganside court after the supergrass trial dramatically ended in 2012.

Loyalists and their supporters celebrate as they walk free from Belfast's Laganside court after the supergrass trial dramatically ended in 2012.

 

Ulster Unionists have been accused of “cherry picking support for the rule of law” after the party proposed scrapping supergrass trials.

The UUP has also been criticised over its report that set out the party’s policy on the flying of the Union Flag from civic buildings.

DUP MLA Stephen Moutray said the proposals – contained in a 16-page document entitled ‘Proposals for parades and protests, flags and dealing with the past’ – were “mixed up at best and two-faced at worst”.

The Upper Bann representative said: “The UUP is at sixes and sevens on flying the Union Flag on civic buildings.”

He added: “In their Haass policy document there is a proposal for the flying of the Union Flag on council headquarters. With the exception of Belfast, they state that councils should fly the flag on designated days, but this could be increased when there is political support.

“However, it’s not clear that UUP councillors would support any increase even when there is political support.”

Chris Lyttle of Alliance said the proposals were a “retreat into the trenches by the UUP”.

The East Belfast MLA said: “Instead of continuing to take part in meetings between party leaders on these issues, the UUP have published these proposals without a strategy on how to gain agreement on flags, parades and the past.

“The UUP, like other parties, are cherry picking their support for the rule of law. The UUP want the on the run letters rescinded, yet they want to abolish the supergrass trials into loyalist paramilitaries. Alliance has a consistent message that everyone must be treated equally under the rule of law through the courts.”

As well as making recommendations on flags and parading, the UUP document called for an end to supergrass trials.

The party also said it wished to see the European courts engaged to ensure fair application of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights to legacy coroners’ courts.

The final recommendation was for the rescinding of all on the run letters.

The ambition must be to complete the processes quickly, because citizens deserve the chance to enjoy the peaceful society the UUP envisaged in 1998, it concluded.

Commenting on the reaction to the proposals yesterday, the UUP leader Mike Nesbitt said he welcomed the fresh debate.

“We will be distributing our proposals to victims’ and survivors’ organisations, community groups and business bodies over the coming days,” he said.

 

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