Belfast City Council has historic opportunity to find agreement on flags

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Alliance Group Leader Maire Hendron

( November 29, 2012, UK, Refugee News Network )-Alliance Group Leader Maire Hendron has said Belfast City Councillors have a historic opportunity to show their commitment to a shared future, rather than clinging to the politics of the past.

Speaking ahead of Monday?s Council meeting, the representative for East Belfast said the flag debate gave Councillors an opportunity to find a lasting solution to how emblems and symbols are displayed across the city. This will provide a clear test for all parties and challenge their commitment to creating a shared future.

Councillor Maire Hendron said: ?Belfast City Council has a historic opportunity to work towards finding a solution on how emblems and symbols are displayed from now on across the city.

?The leaders of the UUP and DUP have gone to great lengths to talk about their commitment to a shared future, yet when it is put to the test their Councillors are choosing to cling to a past ripe with divisions and tensions.

?Just last weekend DUP Leader and First Minister Peter Robinson said he believed the majority of Catholics would now choose to remain as part of Northern Ireland. The DUP has proved with its continued campaign for the flag at Belfast City Hall that it is not truly devoted to creating a shared society. Its Council group continues to stir up Unionist fears instead of making its decision based on the future of all citizens.

?But likewise Sinn Fein and the SDLP must recognise the political reality of Northern Ireland?s place within the UK. They must respect the Good Friday Agreement and realise that removing the flag permanently from Belfast City Hall is not good for our society.

?The Alliance Party believes the Union flag should fly with dignity and respect on designated days at Belfast City Hall, as it does at Stormont. Other parties may talk about their aim for a shared future, but Alliance is the only party actively working to seek a solution for all in Belfast.

?Alliance is committed to building a shared future free from sectarianism and inequality. This debate gives Councillors a great opportunity to work towards finding mutual understanding and respect for all cultures and identities across Northern Ireland.

?Designated days recognises Northern Ireland?s correct place as part of the UK and provides the best platform to further community relations.?

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