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!"## %&"# !'()"!!"*# *# %+,-!. !/)(*+! ,#0 &)(+&)!
PlsLorlcally Lhe pollLlcal use of flags, symbols and emblems has been conLesLed wlLhln our
dlvlded socleLy slnce Lhe genesls of parLlLlon. 1he old SLormonL reglme heavlly regulaLed Lhe
publlc dlsplay of flags by clLlzens, prohlblLlng Lhe flylng of Lhe lrlsh 1rlcolour, whlle maklng lL
a crlmlnal offence Lo Lake down a unlon flag anywhere oLher Lhan your own properLy.
1hls leglslaLlon was repealed ln 1987, as lL was lncompaLlble wlLh ArLlcles 10 and 14 of Lhe
Luropean ConvenLlon on Puman 8lghLs (LCP8) ln respecL of freedom of expresslon wlLhouL
ln 1998, boLh Lhe Cood lrlday AgreemenL (ClA) and Lhe Puman 8lghLs AcL (P8A)
guaranLeed Lhe lncorporaLlon of Lhe LCP8 lnLo domesLlc law.
1he ClA provlde for an !"#$%&'() +, -./%(0/1(2 duLy on publlc auLhorlLles. 1hls sLaLuLory
duLy was expllclLly slngled ouL ln Lhe agreemenL Lo be enshrlned wlLh Lhe 8lll of 8lghLs.
!-3/ ,+.0$&%('14 +, % 4/1/.%& +5&'4%('+1 +1 4+6/.10/1( %17 8$5&'9 5+7'/:; ,$&&) (+ ./:8/9( +1
(3/ 5%:': +, /#$%&'() +, (./%(0/1(; (3/ '7/1('() %17 /(3+: +, 5+(3 9+00$1'('/:2<
SubsequenLly, Lhe Puman 8lghLs Commlsslon (P8C), Lasked wlLh Lhe formulaLlon of Lhe blll,
recommended ln lLs 2008 advlce Lo Lhe governmenL:
!=$5&'9 %$(3+.'('/: 0$:( ,$&&) ./:8/9(; +1 (3/ 5%:': +, /#$%&'() +, (./%(0/1(; (3/ '7/1('() %17
/(3+: +, 5+(3 0%'1 9+00$1'('/: '1 >?< >+ +1/ ./&)'14 +1 (3': 8.+6':'+1 0%) 7+ :+ '1 %
0%11/. '19+1:':(/1( @'(3 (3/ .'43(: %17 ,.//7+0: +, +(3/.:2<
1he 8rlLlsh CovernmenL has sLlll noL lnLroduced a 8lll of 8lghLs. 1hls vold has conLrlbuLed ln
no small measure Lo Lhe malalse we are currenLly ln, surroundlng Lhese lssues.
ln Lhe conLexL of a dlvlded socleLy, publlc auLhorlLles cannoL and should noL reflecL Lhe
naLlonal ldenLlLy of [usL one slde of Lhe communlLy. ln respecL of Lhls Slnn leln has proposed
a pollcy of 'equallLy or neuLrallLy'. 1hls can LranslaLe lnLo boLh naLlonal flags on dlsplay or no
flags aL all Lo be flown. WhaL ls requlred ls a manlfesLaLlon of muLual respecL for boLh
ldenLlLles, 8rlLlsh and lrlsh.
AparL from publlc bulldlngs, Lhe use of flags, symbols and emblems are also a conLenLlous
lssue ln publlc places. AparL from unenforced plannlng laws, no form of sLaLe regulaLlon
Some may quesLlon Lhe need or purpose of flylng flags aL all, wlLhln our dlvlded socleLy.
Such dlsplays can generaLe a sense of fear and dlvlslon by marklng our LerrlLory. 1hls ls
clearly aL odds wlLh Lhe wlshes of Lhe ma[orlLy of Lhe populaLlon Lo develop a peaceful,
progresslve and shared fuLure. Powever, we musL deal wlLh Lhe currenL reallLy, and Lhe
essenLlal need Lo flnd a way of 'regulaLlng' Lhe dlsplay of flags and emblems.
1here does exlsL however a 'flags' proLocol ln whlch Lhe ÞSnl ls Lhe lead agency. 1hls has
never been lmplemenLed ln any slgnlflcanL measure. ln essence lL ls a LoLally lneffecLlve
mechanlsm for deallng wlLh dlsplays ln publlc spaces. lL was lnLroduced ln 2003 wlLh a remlL
Lo provlde Lhe means wlLh whlch Lo remove all flags from arLerlal rouLes and Lown cenLres.
lL also lncluded a number of speclflc ob[ecLlves:

• 8emoval of all paramlllLary flags and emblems
• ConLrol of dlsplay of flags ln cerLaln areas
• 1he llmlLaLlon on when flags could be flown and for how long
• Secure local agreemenL LhaL LaLLered/dlscoloured flags don'L enhance Lhe local
Whlle Lhe proLocol has noL dellvered, lLs ob[ecLlves requlre furLher conslderaLlon, especlally
ln Lhe conLexL of any aLLempL Lo bulld a sLaLuLory and/or consensual approach for Lhem.
We need Lo respecL Lhe rlghL of all clLlzens Lo celebraLe one's culLure and ldenLlLy ln an
accepLable manner, whlle recognlslng and respecLlng Lhe percepLlons of Lhose who may
vlew such dlsplays as overLly secLarlan, lnLlmldaLlng and lndeed LhreaLenlng ln naLure.
lallure Lo do so, perpeLuaLes dlvlslon and lnsLablllLy.
Slnn leln ls commlLLed Lo proacLlvely work wlLh Lhe 8epubllcan/naLlonallsL communlLy Lo
develop agreed proLocols around flags, symbols and emblems wlLh our unlonlsL/LoyallsL
1hls could be dealL wlLh Lhrough observlng Lhe followlng measures whlch should be
underplnned ln leglslaLlon.
1. no flags or emblems Lo be dlsplayed on key arLerlal rouLes (Lo be deflned) and Lown
2. no paramlllLary flags, dlsplaylng symbols or names, and reglmenLal mlllLary flags (e.g.
ÞarachuLe 8eglmenL) on dlsplay ln publlc places
3. no flags/emblems Lo be dlsplayed ln Lhe vlclnlLy of:
a. Þlaces of worshlp
b. Schools
c. PosplLals or any publlcly funded bulldlngs
d. Cr wlLhln, or ad[acenL Lo, shared/mlxed/new houslng developmenLs
e. lnLerface boundarles
4. llags/emblems/symbols LhaL are LaLLered, Lorn, dlscoloured or ln general dlsrepalr,
confer a lack of respecL and should be removed.
3. llag proLocols could be developed ln local or beLween nelghbourlng areas:
AgreemenL could be reached on Lhe followlng prlnclples:
• A no flag pollcy, perLalnlng Lo boLh ldenLlLles
• no pavemenLs Lo be palnLed ln 'LradlLlonal' colours l.e.
red/whlLe/blue or green/whlLe/orange.
• ln relaLlon Lo Lhe prollferaLlon of flags, an agreemenL Lo
esLabllsh a slngle flag posL ln each area, on whlch respecLlve
naLlonal flags wlll be flown, and malnLalned over Llme.
6. Any acLlons under Lhese proLocols musL be necessary, proporLlonaLe and ln llne wlLh
Lhe LCP8.

1he developmenL of a consensus around Lhese proLocols over Llme ls deslreable ln
addresslng Lhls conLenLlous and hlghly dlvlslve lssue.
1hls would also conLrlbuLe, ln no small way, Lo a reducLlon ln Lenslon and frusLraLlon LhaL
Lhls lssue has generaLed, for all pollLlcal perspecLlves, especlally over Lhls pasL Len monLhs.
Moreover, lL would help creaLe Lhe condlLlons for promoLlng reconclllaLlon, and help bulld a
shared fuLure, on Lhe foundaLlon sLones of equallLy, parlLy of esLeem, Lolerance and respecL
for all.