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Union flag to fly over Stormont for an extra three days

Two Union flags fly over Parliament Buildings, Stormont, earlier this month

THE Union flag will be flown over Parliament Buildings at Stormont for an extra three days a year, the Assembly Commission agreed yesterday.

The flag will now be flown on 18 designated days, as set out by the British Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

Presently, the the flag is flown for 15 days a year.

The change will be introduced after a majority of Assembly Commission members agreed to implement recommendations set out in an Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) review of the Union flag policy at Parliament Buildings.

DUP MLA Paula Bradley put forward an amendment, asking that the flag be flown over the building 365 days a year.

The vote was tied, but the amendment was rejected after Speaker Mitchel McLaughlin used his casting vote.

Designated days include St Patrick's Day on March 17 and Remembrance Day.

An impact assessment on the flying of the Union flag was carried out between October last year and February. It came after a controversy erupted in 2012 over restrictions placed on the flying of the flag over Belfast City Hall.

Belfast city councillors voted in December 2013 to only fly the Union flag over the building on designated days.

There were violent scenes around city hall immediately after the vote.

In the weeks that followed, loyalists took part in hundreds of protests, some of them violent.

Roads were blocked, several police officers were hurt in disturbances, some politicians received death threats, Alliance party offices were attacked and homes were damaged.

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