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EDITIONS
 Wednesday, 8 January, 2003, 12:54 GMT
Alliance calls for new NI flag
Irish tricolour and Union flag fly in lord mayor's office
Irish tricolour and Union flag fly in lord mayor's office
The Alliance Party is calling for a new flag for Northern Ireland as a part of its plan to end segregation and sectarianism.

In a policy document launched on Wednesday, the party is also calling for a Charter of Freedom from sectarianism.

In recent years, the Alliance party has been squeezed between the growing forces of nationalism and unionism.

However the party says it is fighting back, attempting to appeal to voters who do not want to be pigeon-holed into either community.
The Union Flag
The Union flag is flown on designated days

The Alliance Party is reminding the public of its non-sectarian roots.

Party leader David Ford claimed the proposals which include a new flag are both radical and original.

However, the plan has been criticised by a unionist assembly member.

Norman Boyd, the Northern Ireland Unionist Party's representative for South Antrim, said the plans were an attack on the sovereignty of Northern Ireland as an integral part of the United Kingdom.

"The Union flag is not negotiable and the Alliance Party's proposals must be utterly condemned."

The flying of flags is one of the most controversial issues in Northern Ireland.

Last year, Belfast's first republican lord mayor unveiled a tricolour in his office at Belfast City Hall alongside the Union flag.

The move angered unionists in Northern Ireland, who accused Alex Maskey of abusing his office.

Discrimination

However, Mr Maskey said it was a matter of equality and urged unionist councillors to "grow up".

Previously, a court dismissed an attempt by Sinn Fein to prevent the flying of the Union flag on certain days outside public buildings.

Sinn Fein mounted a legal challenge to the Flags Order introduced by former Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson allowing the Union flag to be flown on 17 designated days.

The party argued that the order was contrary to the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement and discriminated against nationalists.

This followed the refusal of Sinn Fein ministers Bairbre de Brun and Martin McGuinness to fly the flag on buildings occupied by their departments on designated days in the past.

The former health and education ministers said they wanted the Irish tricolour to fly alongside the Union flag, otherwise no flag should fly at all.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  BBC NI's political correspondent Martina Purdy:
"The party is inviting the public to submit designs"
See also:

04 Sep 02 | N Ireland
13 Nov 00 | N Ireland
08 Sep 00 | N Ireland
02 Jun 00 | N Ireland
02 Jun 00 | N Ireland
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