Flags report: ‘Belfast-centred focus on flags that ignores rural victims concerns ’

The commission’s report has an overwhelming focus on contentious flag flying in Belfast, but has failed to give due consideration to vulnerable border communities, it is claimed.

By Philip Bradfield
Wednesday, 1st December 2021, 11:08 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st December 2021, 11:22 pm
Dr Dominic Bryan from the Queen’s University’s Institute of Irish Studies played a leading role in the FICT commission.
Dr Dominic Bryan from the Queen’s University’s Institute of Irish Studies played a leading role in the FICT commission.

Belfast is mentioned 38 times but Armagh, Fermanagh, Tyrone, Down and Londonderry not mentioned at all in the body of the report.

The report dedicates two chapters to flags, citing flags 262 times and bonfires 135, also deserving of a chapter.

However, memorials, which the report states are overwhelmingly terrorrelated, are mentioned just 82 times by comparison.

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The report said that commissioners were unable to agree to take an audit of all the memorials on public property.

Despite the instability created by paramilitary-style funerals – especially during Covid lockdowns – there is no apparent mention of them.

Terror groups and their victims appear to be given similar weighting in deliberations, with victims mentioned 11 times, republicans nine and loyalists 14.

Kenny Donaldson, director of services with victims’ group SEFF, said he was “deeply disappointed that little focus has again been given to the concerns of border communities”.

He said victims of the Troubles were particularly concerned by “illegal terror memorials dotted across the landscapes, illegal flags and the continued presence of terror signage, graffiti and other displays from telegraph poles and other public sector-owned property”.

And he questioned why the report did not appear to mention republican and loyalist paramilitary-style funerals “the Bobby Storey funeral being the highest profile case”.

He added: “The report has an underlying narrative of seeking to minimise the impacts of terrorism and of seeking to control the public narrative around how innocent victims should be ‘allowed’ to remember their loved ones.”

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