Northern Ireland news

Flags commission says report 'incomplete' after Jamie Bryson leaks draft proposals

Loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson. Picture by Mal McCann
Brendan Hughes

A STORMONT body aimed at addressing flags and bonfire controversies has said its report remains incomplete after leaked draft proposals were published online by loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson.

The Commission on Flags, Identity, Culture and Tradition (FICT) was formed in 2016 under the DUP and Sinn Féin's 'Fresh Start' agreement to make recommendations on dealing with the divisive issues.

The 15-member panel's report is due to be completed later this year, although civil servants running Stormont since the executive's collapse say the findings will be withheld from publication until considered by ministers.

However, Mr Bryson yesterday published details of some alleged draft recommendations.

The bonfire proposals include making dry wood exempt from being considered controlled waste, in the hope that landowners could then set critieria to regulate pyres.

For bonfires on public land, there would be a six-week limit on material collections; a ban on offensive displays; and at least a 1:5 ratio of bonfire height to distance from physical structures such as houses.

The flags proposals include requiring people to give notification of their intention to erect flags on public property.

There would also be guidelines on what flags would be allowed and the acceptable time period for displaying them.

Mr Bryson last night said unionists should be "sceptical" of any de-facto licensing schemes, and called on the DUP and UUP to have the commission "suspended".

Asked about the leak, a FICT spokeswoman said: "The work of the Commission on Flags, Identity, Culture and Tradition is ongoing.

"The report is not yet completed and no recommendations have been agreed. No decisions have been taken regarding the publication of the report."

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