Chris Lyttle of the Alliance party said some members of the assembly had misrepresented his party's views on the display of flags, on 11 October 2011.
Mr Lyttle said Alliance upheld the right to freedom of expression, however he objected to the use of flags to intimidate, to demarcate territory and their depiction of proscribed organisations.
He called for the removal of tattered and paramilitary flags.
Sammy Douglas of the DUP observed that there had long been a protocol between east Belfast loyalist groups that flags should be removed by Ulster Day in late September.
Alex Maskey of Sinn Fein said it was important that any action taken should not result in people feeling it was removing their view of history or their heritage.
He called for "clear political and civic leadership" on the issue of flags.
The UUP's Michael Copeland spoke of the mythic power of flags including the flag that flew over the General Post Office in Dublin in 1916, and the flag of the Young Citizen Volunteers that flew briefly over the third German line.
He said the flags flown in east Belfast could be seen as a symptom of deeper problems and interference with that symptom could cause further problems.
Alasdair McDonnell of the SDLP said, "the fact is that the flags poison community relations".
He quoted a survey that suggested that 84% of people did not want to see flags flown in their area.
Mr McDonnell said that although paramilitary flags were the the most offensive they were the least likely to be removed.