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Amendment to the Motion

Part of Flags (Northern Ireland) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 - Motion to Approve – in the House of Lords at 6:15 pm on 3rd April 2019.

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Photo of Lord Browne of Belmont Lord Browne of Belmont DUP 6:15 pm, 3rd April 2019

My Lords, my remarks shall be rather brief. I welcome this having been a serious debate on the flying of flags in Northern Ireland and I am pleased that it is taking place in these peaceful surroundings. However, I still find it a little bizarre that we would continue to fly the flag of an organisation that we will, eventually, have left. I point out that the general public in Northern Ireland can, if they so desire, continue to fly and display the European flag, just as we have regularly witnessed the display of many European flags outside this building. Also, local councils in Northern Ireland, if they agree the policy, can fly the European flag on their civic buildings on 9 May.

People in Northern Ireland often point out, when discussing the flying of flags, that there is one arrangement whereby, for example, City Hall and Parliament buildings fly a flag but a different arrangement exists for the flying of flags on government buildings and, indeed, the Royal Courts of Justice. They are governed by quite different provisions. Does the Minister accept that this can often lead to a degree of confusion over why a certain flag is flying on a particular building but not on another? Does he agree that, for this reason, in future we may need a more uniform approach?

Finally, I once again regret that there is no functioning and workable Northern Ireland Assembly to consult on these matters. I hope that will not be the case for much longer and remain optimistic that, with political will on all sides, talks about reforming, workable institutions in Northern Ireland can resume soon. I am happy to support this statutory instrument and I concur with the decision made by the other House.