Haass asks political parties for views on new NI flag

Dr Richard Haass
Dr Richard Haass

The five main political parties in Northern Ireland have been asked for their views on the potential new NI flag, it has emerged.

The question was posed by US diplomat Dr Richard Haass.

Dr Haass, who is chairing talks on parading in Northern Ireland, also posed a number of other questions including one asking what criteria a parading body should consider in making its adjudications.

TUV leader Jim Allister said: “The apparent suggestion by Richard Haass that Northern Ireland should consider a new flag is totally unacceptable.

“No country’s flag is neutral. It is a symbol of that country. An emblem of sovereignty. The flying of Union Flag shows that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom. The Ulster Banner recognised our allegiance to the monarchy of the UK by the inclusion of the Crown.

“A so-called “neutral” flag would be an attack on Northern Ireland’s position in the UK and a dilution of our Britishness: a ploy to diminish and phase out the Union flag.”

Mr Allister said the proposal of a new flag “would be totally unacceptable to the majority of people in Northern Ireland who time and time again have voted in a way which shows they wish to remain part of the United Kingdom”.

“The proposal is insulting and certainly wouldn’t be accepted in Dr Haass’s own country.

“This suggestion, added to the recently floated idea of an effective amnesty for pre-1998 terrorist offences, will increase Unionist fears about what exactly is going on in the Haass talks. I repeat that Unionists have nothing left to give.”