Extend Union flag guidance to NI: Donaldson

The DUP has called for new guidance on the flying of the Union Flag to be extended to Northern Ireland.

Friday, 26th March 2021, 11:07 am
Union F lag protests in Belfast on the eighth anniversary of the 2012 protests last year

The national flag is to be flown on UK government buildings every day in a bid to unite the nation.

At present, Union Flags are only required to be flown on UK government buildings on designated days, but the new guidance from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will ask for it to be flown all the time in England, Scotland and Wales.

However, in Northern Ireland it will continue to be flown only on designated days.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “The Union Flag unites us as a nation and people rightly expect it to be flown above UK government buildings.

“This guidance will ensure that happens every day, unless another flag is being flown, as a proud reminder of our history and the ties that bind us.”

Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “Our nation’s flag is a symbol of liberty, unity and freedom that creates a shared sense of civic pride. People rightly expect to see the Union Flag flying high on civic and government buildings up and down the country, as a sign of our local and national identity.

“That’s why I am calling on all local councils to fly the Union Flag on their buildings – and today’s guidance will enable them to do that.”

Asked if the Union Flag should be more prominent around Wales, Welsh Secretary Simon Hart said: “My view about the Union is it isn’t a political party, and we shouldn’t politicise the Union.”

Flags and emblems are a contentious issue among Northern Ireland’s divided communities.

In 2012 the decision of Belfast City Council to reduce the number of days on which the Union Flag is flown from City Hall sparked widespread protests and disorder.

DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said it is “bizarre” that the UK government is “only deciding in 2021 to fly the Union Flag, the flag of our nation, on all government buildings every day”.

“When I visit other nations around the world, flying the national flag on government buildings is commonplace,” he said.

“The decision to exclude Northern Ireland at this stage is wrong and runs contrary to New Decade, New Approach which sought to align us with the rest of the UK when it came to the Union Flag being flown on government buildings.

“This is a matter we will be pressing the government to address.”