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Friday, 8 September, 2000, 19:10 GMT 20:10 UK
Mandelson proposals over flag flying
Flag flying above Stormont
The issue of flag flying has sparked controversy
The Northern Ireland Secretary of State has published his proposals for dealing with the controversy over flags on government buildings.

Flag flying has become an emotive and divisive issue between republicans and unionists.

Peter Mandelson intervened in the row over flags, after unionists complained Sinn Fein ministers were refusing to fly the Union Flag.

His draft proposals recommend the flag should be flown 17 days of the year - in line with the rest of the United Kingdom.

Peter Mandelson:
Peter Mandelson: "There is no perfect solution to this issue"
In a statement on Friday, Mr Mandelson said: "I am proposing these regulations for consultation.

"There is no perfect solution to this issue, otherwise the parties and the executive would have found it.

"I recognise that what the government is proposing is unlikely fully to satisfy either side, but it is a sensitive, common sense way forward which I hope everyone will take time to consider."

The proposals would mean the flag would no longer fly on the twelfth of July, Christmas Day, New Year's day and Easter Sunday.

Mr Mandelson is proposing the Union Flag must fly on seven government headquarter buildings on the designated days.

Elsewhere, the flag should continue to fly in line with custom and practise.

The political parties have until 20 October to respond to the proposals.

A special cross party committee is to be set up at Stormont next week to discuss the issue.

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See also:

08 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
Committee to discuss flag flying
02 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
Tension over flag flying
02 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
Sinn Fein criticised over flag stance
04 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
SF expulsion motion fails
28 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
Anti-Sinn Fein school walkout
06 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
DUP flags motion defeated
02 Aug 00 | Northern Ireland
Loyalists protest at hospital visit
04 Aug 00 | Northern Ireland
Trimble joins Union Flag row
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