A March 1986 memo from a J Kirk, responding to a request for clarification about the flying of the Union Flag from Parliament Buildings, said that it operated a system of designated flag days.
In the document, released at the Public Record Office in Belfast, Mr Kirk wrote: “Briefly, the position is that the Union Flag is flown on those official occasions established by regulations promulgated by the Department of the Environment, London, by Her Majesty’s Command, and on such other days that the Assembly is sitting.
“On the latter occasions, the department arranges for the flag to be flown on being notified by the office of the clerk to the Assembly.”
Mr Kirk said that on Tuesday March 11 1986, a day which was neither an official occasion on which the flag should have been flown nor a sitting day of the Assembly, “a Union Flag had been hoisted by persons unknown and unauthorised to do so” but that it had been removed.
Mr Kirk said that the department was keen “to seek to maintain the established UK practice and, in relation to Assembly sitting days, to follow the practice adopted at the House of Commons at Westminster”.