New moves on flag issue

Flags along Irish Green Street, Limavady, yesterday (2108JB61)
Flags along Irish Green Street, Limavady, yesterday (2108JB61)

The controversial flags issue in Limavady is to take a new turn with residents in two estates soon to be offered the oportunity to have their say.

The controversial flags issue in Limavady is to take a new turn with residents in two estates soon to be offered the oportunity to have their say.

The move involves several agencies, including Limavady Borough Council.

Council’s Development Services Manager, Paul Beattie, explained Council receives funding from central government each year to put in place a Good Relations programme. As part of that programme, money has been set aside to work on the wider issues of flags and bonfires.

“Everyone is keen to see a resolution to the issue of flags but, as with all issues which may cause tension, it is important to get the views of as many people as possible,” he said. “Through the Good Relations programme, we’re going to do some community consultation in the immediate area of the Glens and Coolessan to see what people’s views are on flags. It’s not in place yet, but we hope to have this completed by the end of October, with the dissemination of results shortly thereafter. People often say that they are ‘consulted-out’ - but this is one issue in which we hope people will give full and frank views so that we can map a way forward in partnership with all interested parties.”

A member of the town’s ‘Flags Forum’, who preferred not to be named, hailed the development as “leading the way”, and is confident consultation will result in having a flag pole in a specified area for the flying of nationalist and republican flags on designated days of the year. “It shows we are moving on. I hope it sets an example to unionists,” he said.

The member is confident once people in the Glens and Cooolessan areas are asked for their views, they will agree with having a specific area to fly flags on designated days.

“I think people will be happy enough with that. It shows we are moving on,” he said, adding flags flying along Irish Green Street and Ballyquin Road will be taken down this week.

“It will clean up the town and show we have respect for our flag,” he added.

Sinn Fein councillor Sean McGlinchey has been involved in the talks and said, for too long, flags have been used to create tension by both sides of the community in Limavady.

“I think this is the way forward,” he said. “Isn’t it better to have flags flying on a handful of designated days rather than for several months throughout the year?”