HOPES of having an agreement in place to deal with the contentious issue of the flying of flags in the borough ahead of the upcoming marching season have been dashed.
Newtownabbey Borough Council has made tentative steps to bring about a consensus on how to deal with the flying of flags around the borough.
At this week’s full council meeting, members approved the formation of a group to explore a possible agreement on the controversial issue.
Last July, tensions flared and there were two nights of violence in Ballyclare after a row erupted over the removal of loyalist flags from around the Church of the Sacred Heart in the town. And over Easter this year a number of republican flags and nationalist emblems were erected on lampposts in the Glengormley area causing widespread uproar in the community.
Newtownabbey councillors have expressed fears that there could be a repeat of the violence if a protocol on how to deal with flags is not in place.
However, PUP representative Phil Hamilton said there would be “little hope” of there being an agreement in place prior to this summer’s marching season.
Mr Hamilton, who has been approached by the council to help establish the protocol, said: “This is a very contentious and emotive issue, one that will not be easy to come to an agreement on that will suit everybody.
“First and foremost all the interested parties need to be identified and then they need to consider what they want from a protocol - and if they can deliver. Then they all need to come together to establish a dialogue - which will not be easy. And when all this is in place then they can work on establishing a protocol.”
Read the full story in this week’s Times...