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Police probe after Tricolour flies over Stormont

Flags including Tricolour flying over Parliament Buildings in Belfast yesterday

UNIONIST politicians have demanded to know how the tricolour was allowed to be flown from a main flagpole at Parliament Buildings at Stormont.

Police are investigating after two republican flags, including the tricolour and another believed to be the Irish Republic proclamation flag, were flown from the two flagpoles on the roof of the buildings for around 15 minutes at lunchtime yesterday.

Unionists demanded swift action, but Sinn F??in's Gerry Kelly accused them of "hysteria".

The Assembly is also carrying out a separate investigation and will brief the cross-party Assembly Commission this morning.

Co Fermanagh firm Tracey Brothers were awarded the ??5.4 million contract to fix Stormont's leaking roof. The firm could not be contacted last night.

The Assembly said the roof and fourth floor of Parliament Buildings are currently a building site "under the control of building contractors".

Ulster Unionist Fermanagh and South Tyrone MP Tom Elliott said the flags were flown to "attract attention and cause offence and annoyance".

"The Ulster Unionist Party will be seeking a full explanation of how this could happen," he said.

"We are perfectly clear that the Union Flag is the only flag that should fly over Stormont in order to reflect and respect the sovereignty of the United Kingdom."

DUP North Down MLA Peter Weir has written to assembly speaker Mitchell McLaughlin and assembly chief executive Trevor Reaney to demand an explanation.

 

"If it was carried out by someone working for an outside contractor then this surely would represent a breach of contract which should result in sanction," he said.

"It would also place an onus on the company to take disciplinary action against those responsible. I have inquired too whether the Union Flags, flying to mark Coronation Day, were interfered with yesterday (Tuesday)."

 

Sinn F??in MLA Gerry Kelly accused unionists of "hysteria" and said all traditions must be respected at Stormont.

"This for some unionist politicians is a bigger crisis than anything that has happened over the past weeks," he said.

???One thing that is lost on those who are objecting is the fact that they are the same parties who have not called for the removal of countless British and unionist flags at sensitive interfaces or from countless town centres bedecked with union flags."

An Assembly spokesman said an investigation has been launched and Commission members are to be briefed this morning.

 

"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 said.

"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.???

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