John McCallister MLA, Independent Unionist for South Down, has condemned the flying of the Tricolour over Parliament Buildings, describing the stunt as very unhelpful. Mr McCallister called on all those parties which signed up to the Belfast Agreement to condemn the act.
Given the sensitive nature of the welfare reform debates and the general tensions at Parliament Building in the post-Westminster election period and the run up to the Stormont election next year, this flag issue has been taken seriously given the issues that arose outside Belfast City Hall two years ago.
In a statement shortly after the incident, Mr McCallister said: “This was a reckless act from someone who had little regard for community relations in Northern Ireland. At this time of prolonged political stalemate it is particularly unhelpful.
“I have no doubt the Irish Government will be very embarrassed and all those parties who support the Belfast Agreement should condemn it.
“It runs counter to building good community and political relations and it runs counter to the settlement that was reached in 1998 and ratified by the people of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
“An individual may have considered this to be a prank, but it is a serious breach of protocol and will not help political or community relations going forward.”
An Assembly spokesperson said: “The Northern Ireland Assembly was made aware that two flags were flown without permission from the roof of Parliament Buildings for a short time today. The roof and the fourth floor of Parliament Buildings are currently a construction site under the control of building contractors. As soon as the Assembly was made aware of the incident, the flags were removed. The Assembly is investigating the incident. “The Speaker is clear that the Commission needs to be able to consider this matter in full possession of the facts of the situation. He has invited Commission Members to a briefing tomorrow morning for the Clerk/ Chief Executive to update them on any initial findings surrounding the incident. A full meeting of the Commission will then be held on Monday when all Commission Members are available and when it is anticipated that more information will be known.”]]>