Down District Council is inviting interested groups to express their views on the flying of flags in the district.
Historically, Down District has worked hard with community leaders to resolve difficult issues involving national identity and culture.
There are many examples of good practice around Down District. For instance, Castlewellan and District Orange Order erects and takes down flags on the same day. In a similar understanding, the Republican Movement in Downpatrick erects flags on Easter Monday and takes them down again that evening.
Down District Council flies only the neutral Council flag on ceremonial and all other occasions with the exception of St Patrick’s Day when the Cross of Saint Patrick is flown. These are but a few of the many worthy examples of where tolerance, mutual respect and goodwill prevails in our area.
However, in an effort to make all public places in the council area more welcoming to both residents and visitors, Down District Council is seeking to implement a Good Relations Policy on Flags in Public Places.
A draft policy, which has full Council support, has been developed over the last 12 months by Down District Council’s Good Relations Forum, guided by external independent mediation.
Councillor Cadogan Enright, Chairman of the Good Relations Forum, said, “It is our policy that the identity and culture of each community should be celebrated and respected by the entire population in the Down District Council area.
From the outset we recognise flags as important emblems and that both the identity and culture of communities should be celebrated and respected. However we are also aware of the dangers that exist when flags are used as a means of demarcation or indeed intimidation. The flying of flags across the district has been identified as an area which is to be addressed”.
Draft proposals drawn up by the Good Relations Forum suggest the Council should allow the following flags to be erected before and during an event, provided they are taken down within a reasonable timescale. The draft policy, agreed by the Forum, can be viewed in full on Down District Council’s website: www.ddc.gov.uk.
Flags considered acceptable include those used to celebrate traditional events, political and cultural commemorations – e.g. Provincial flags, county and council flags, community flags, sporting flags, religious flags and cultural flags. Paramilitary flags are not acceptable.
Down District Council Chairman, Councillor William Dick said, “The draft policy demonstrates Down District Council’s commitment to the people in our community. Community opinion and support is vital in the development of a policy on flying flags in public places.
This is the next stage in the process, giving local groups and individuals the opportunity to have their say in this sometimes contentious issue.
We want to give everyone in the area a chance to shape the Council’s policy as it directly affects their well-being and their quality of life.”
Consultation on the Draft Policy on Flying Flags in Public Places in Down District will commence early in 2010.
Anyone wishing to become involved in this Consultation Exercise should contact the Council’s Good Relations Forum on 028 4461 0838. A series of consultation meetings will be arranged to include those who wish to contribute.