Stormont tricolour briefing ‘entirely unsatisfactory’

The tricolour and Irish Republic proclamation flag flew briefly over Stormont on Wednesday
The tricolour and Irish Republic proclamation flag flew briefly over Stormont on Wednesday

A Stormont briefing to establish how an Irish tricolour and the Irish Republic proclamation flag were flown from the roof of Stormont “was entirely unsatisfactory”, a DUP MLA has said.

North Belfast DUP MLA Paula Bradley spoke out after Assembly speaker Mitchel McLaughlin and members of the Assembly Commission met to discuss the security breach.

During the meeting it emerged that locks had been changed allowing access on to the roof and questions were asked whether contractors had been given security clearance to the building.

Ms Bradley said the Assembly “is attempting to hide behind the ongoing police investigation to delay any proper investigation into the obvious security breakdown which allowed someone to erect an unauthorised flag on Parliament Buildings”.

“The Commission meeting today was entirely unsatisfactory in terms of establishing what action will be taken to investigate this incident,” she added.

“If an individual was able to access the roof of any Parliament or legislature across the world and erect an unauthorised flag on the building there would undoubtedly be an investigation by both the police and the managing authorities of the building. This should be no different in Northern Ireland.

“It is for the police to decide whether a criminal offence occurred and how they might pursue that.”

Questioning whether proper security procedures have been in place in recent weeks, Ms Bradley added she will be writing to the Health and Safety Executive asking them to look into the incident.

“There are issues for both the Northern Ireland Assembly and the contractor if the proper procedures have not been in place to log those entering an active construction site on the roof of Parliament Buildings,” she said.

Ulster Unionist MLA Sam Gardiner, who also attended the Commission meeting, said: “Whilst some have sought to portray the incident as a prank, there is a serious aspect to it. A police investigation is now under way and must obviously be allowed to take its course.”

The News Letter contacted Co Fermanagh contractor Tracey Brothers who are carrying out work at Stormont for comment.

A woman from the company said managers were unavailable. They declined to return our call.

Meanwhile, TUV leader Jim Allister has tabled written questions to the Assembly Commission in a bid to secure discussion on the incident when the Assembly next meets on Monday.

“I have asked the Assembly Commission how a foreign flag came to be flown from Parliament Buildings and what investigations have been conducted,” he said.