It is time to release the report on Flags, Identity, Culture and Tradition

A letter from Nuala McAllister:

Friday, 16th July 2021, 9:01 am
Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor

Once again we have seen the same debates taking place over bonfires, with flags, emblems and election posters placed on some and yet every year no lasting changes are made.

It doesn’t matter whether it is an Eleventh Night bonfire or an internment bonfire in August – burning flags or effigies, and signs targeting the PSNI or individual public representatives will never be in the name of culture, but always fuelled by hate and should not be tolerated.

Yet it doesn’t have to be this way. Everyone has the right to celebrate their culture but in a respectful and safe manner. Normal practice dictates we ignore the problems burning right before our eyes before rolling out the same debates ahead of more bonfires next year.

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But there is a blueprint to move this issue forward — if the Executive Office can commit to releasing it from the vault it now lies in. The Flags, Identity, Culture and Tradition (FICT) report should be released immediately, ahead of more bonfires next month.

It remains unclear what the current hold up is, especially as in March all parties backed an Alliance Assembly motion calling for the report to be immediately published. It is this current inaction which allows the abuse of flags and heritage to continue to spread division in Northern Ireland.

This report could unlock many of the issues arising throughout the summer months. The excuses have run out. The report must be published.

Nuala McAllister, Alliance councillor, North Belfast

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