Northern Ireland

DUP criticises Alliance's flag deposit plan

Gavin Robinson
Image caption Gavin Robinson has criticised the Alliance Party proposal

The former DUP Lord Mayor of Belfast has criticised an Alliance Party proposal to solve the problem of disputed flags on lamp-posts.

The Alliance Party has suggested that a deposit be paid when a flag goes up and returned when it comes down.

However, Gavin Robinson has said now is not the time to raise the issue.

He said it should be tackled in all-party talks with the US diplomat Richard Haass who will arrive in Northern Ireland this autumn.

"I think it is unhelpful because if anything, when you force people through regulation and enforcement, you do unfortunately get a negative and inappropriate reaction," he added.

"I also think the appropriate forum is for September and that is the time to have it."

East Belfast Alliance Party assembly member Chris Lyttle said he felt the DUP and Sinn Fein had been "unwilling to show leadership" on the matter for "quite some time now".

"It is important we have an honest and frank debate in public about these issues," he said.

The all-party group, chaired by Mr Haas, will try to bring forward a set of recommendations by the end of this year on parades and protests, flags, symbols, emblems and other related matters.

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