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Northern Ireland Flags commission to resume work


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Northern Ireland Flags commission to resume work

Image copyright PAcemaker Image caption Thousands of people march through Belfast city centre one year on from the removal of the union flag from the Belfast city hall in 2012 The body set up to examine flags and identity, which paused its work during the collapse of devolution, is to begin meeting again.The Commission on…

Northern Ireland Flags commission to resume work

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Thousands of people marching through Belfast city centreImage copyright
PAcemaker

Image caption

Thousands of people march through Belfast city centre one year on from the removal of the union flag from the Belfast city hall in 2012

The body set up to examine flags and identity, which paused its work during the collapse of devolution, is to begin meeting again.

The Commission on Flags, Identity, Culture and Tradition (FICT) was established in June 2016.

It was meant to report back within 18 months, but has yet to finish its work.

The Executive Office said the next meeting of the commission would take place in early March.

Last year, BBC News NI revealed that the panel had cost more than £730,000 in fees and expenses.

The co-chairman of the panel, Prof Dominic Bryan, later said he believed it had been given “too big a brief”.

The Ulster Unionist representative on the commission, Doug Beattie, also said it had not been “value for money”.

The commission has 15 members, seven of whom were appointed by the political parties while eight were employed through a recruitment process.

Northern Ireland Who heads the commission?

The FICT is jointly chaired by Mr Neville John Armstrong and Prof Dominic Bryan.

Prof Bryan is a reader at the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics at Queens University Belfast and lists his research as focusing upon the role played by symbols and rituals during the conflict and peace in Northern Ireland.

Prof Bryan’s research centres upon Parades and Human Rights, Flags and the Symbolic Landscape, Belfast and Shared Space and Political Violence and Commemoration.

Northern Ireland Why was the commission set up?

The commission was announced as part of the Fresh Start Agreement, negotiated by the Stormont parties in November 2015.

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It was supposed to help the parties reach consensus on contentious issues surrounding flags, emblems and identity in Northern Ireland, and produce recommendations for the executive to take forward.

It began its work in June 2016, after its make-up was announced by the then first and deputy first ministers.

Five of those on the panel have links to unionism – it also includes a former Alliance Party special adviser, a former SDLP adviser and a former Sinn Féin councillor.

Northern Ireland When is it likely to publish its report?

A final report would need to go to the executive first to be signed off.

There is no clarity yet about when this might happen.

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