Loyalist Communities Council launches NI centenary flag
A body representing loyalist paramilitary groups has launched a flag to mark the centenary of Northern Ireland.
The flag depicting the Northern Ireland coat of arms on a blue background, with symbols representing England, Scotland, Wales and the north, was launched yesterday by the Loyalist Communities Council (LCC).
The group represents elements of the UVF, UDA and Red Hand Commando.
LCC Spokesman David Campbell said he hoped the flag, which features the words 'This we will always maintain', would be adopted across the region.
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He called for a "reasonable and responsible attitude" when displaying it.
"We're asking that it be displayed in areas where it will be welcomed and respected, and that it in terms of its placement, it shouldn't be placed where it can cause controversy or in close proximity to schools, hospitals or churches," he told the BBC.
"It along with our national flags should be respected and shouldn't be allowed to become dilapidated and worn out – they should be removed when they get to that state."
Mr Campbell said he hoped the flag would lead to a "reduction in the flying of more contentious paramilitary flags"
The LCC created a flag in 2016 to commemorate the Battle of the Somme a century earlier.
SDLP MLA Matthew O'Toole said that while groups were entitled to produce flags he said "most people are fed up hearing about flags".
He said there was also concern at the prospect of more flags being put up to "mark territory in shared communities".
"What would be productive is for the Executive Office to publish the report produced by the Commission on Flags, Identity Culture and Tradition so that we can move forward on these issues," he said.