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Monday, 20 May, 2002, 14:02 GMT 15:02 UK
Ministers agree flag day review
Saltire
The saltire is at the centre of the row
Ministers have agreed that public buildings should fly Scotland's Saltire flag on St Andrew's Day.

The Scottish Executive announced a review of an order which called for the Union Flag to be flown in preference to the country's national flag.

Scottish National Party MSP Mike Russell welcomed what he described as "a rapid climbdown".

But said the situation should never have arisen in the first place.

Mike Russell
Mike Russell: "Rapid climbdown"

The row broke out after it emerged that Historic Scotland, which cares for 330 castles and historic properties, could not fly the Saltire on "special" days because of rules giving priority to the Union Flag.

Historic Scotland would normally fly its own flag - with the Saltire being preferred if there were two poles available.

However on days earmarked by the government, the Union Flag must be flown - effectively meaning that the Saltire could be displayed.

These dates include St Andrew's Day - 30 November - the Queen's birthday and her official birthday, Commonwealth Day and even the Queen's wedding anniversary.

Mr Russell said it was "bizarre" that the Saltire could not be flown on Scotland's national day.

Laughing stock

He tabled parliamentary questions about the matter, saying that he hoped "this forelock tugging madness" would be quickly overturned.

He warned: "If not Scotland will become the laughing stock of the world - the only nation in which our government is too ashamed of its own country to allow its own flag to fly."

But the executive insisted that the "guidance" was being changed as part of a review that was already taking place even before Monday's disclosure.

A spokesman said: "The first minister and deputy first minister believe that public buildings should fly the Saltire on St Andrew's Day, and they will make it clear in the review."


The Executive will also actively encourage the flying of the Saltire on public buildings on St Andrew's Day

An executive spokesman
"The executive will also actively encourage the flying of the Saltire on public buildings on St Andrew's Day."

The ban arose from guidance issued by the government's Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

Historic Scotland said: "We are required, in common with all other government buildings in Scotland, and in line with Scottish ministers' policy, to fly the Union flag on 'special' days.

"Where there is one flagpole, the union flag is flown.

"Where there are two flagpoles, the Union Flag and the house flag are flown."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Scotland's Morag Kinniburgh
"There are 14 different flag flying days in Scotland every year"
See also:

19 Feb 02 | Scotland
09 Oct 01 | Scotland
31 Aug 01 | Scotland
20 Jun 00 | Scotland
13 Nov 99 | Battle of Britain
Internet links:


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