Changing the narrative around flags

I’m not one of these people whose heart swells with pride at tricolour or anthem, I’m cold to the point of indifference to symbols.

Flags here have generally been used to dominate, divide and incite as a sectarian tool, and coat-trailing instrument in sham fights that, unfortunately, people still seem to fall for.

Whatever your views on its choice to designate as Nationalist, I’m proud of that fact that SDLP has never used national flags.

The founders were forward thinking and thoughtful in deliberately avoiding trigger words like Irish and nationalist in naming it the social democratic & Labour Party.

I am fully committed to a shared future, it’s ahead of a United Ireland in my personal and political priorities – strengthening the region, reconciling people here – and to 1998 principles that clearly set out how, if our constitutional status might change.

I accept that flags are an important part of identity for some people and respect their right to fly a legal flag outside their home. However, they have no right to fly flags on public furniture, especially in harmonious, well-integrated areas.

We need a consistent approach to this issue, and ultimately we need political leadership and an updated Flags Protocol from the NI Executive, as well as a coherent strategy on tackling sectarianism -we can’t just police our way out of political failure.