Flag flies high in face of plain packaging proposal

FLAGS AND EMBLEMS. . . .DUP officers, Ald. Maurice Devenney, Ald. David Ramsey, Ald. Hilary McClintock, Ald. Drew Thompson and Ald. Grahame Warke pictured outside the DUP offices at Ebrington Terrace yesterday afternoon. INLS2715MC002
FLAGS AND EMBLEMS. . . .DUP officers, Ald. Maurice Devenney, Ald. David Ramsey, Ald. Hilary McClintock, Ald. Drew Thompson and Ald. Grahame Warke pictured outside the DUP offices at Ebrington Terrace yesterday afternoon. INLS2715MC002

Wacky new proposals to ban flags and political emblems from constituency offices weren’t having much of an effect at the Londonderry DUP office yesterday as not only was the Union Flag flying from the second floor of the building but the party was selling it for £4 a unit ahead of the Twelfth celebrations at the weekend.

It was business as usual at the office despite the bizarre Independent Financial Review Panel (IFRP) proposal, which is out for consultation until September.

It appears that following cigarettes there’s now a serious bid to introduce plain packaging for political parties as well in Northern Ireland.

In a new report the IFRP says it believes “there must be a clear division between expenses to support the work of Members in carrying out their Assembly duties, which may be reclaimed from the Commission, and activities connected with any other political or representative roles.”

Consequently is proposes that “all signage must adhere to a standard style guide with a plain single background colour and the name and title of the Member e.g. ‘John Smith MLA’ along with the phrase ‘Constituency Office’ in a single contrasting colour.”

It suggests “the outer appearance of all constituency offices must be welcoming to all sections of the community and, specifically, there should be no display of flags, party or political emblems or memorials on the outside of the building or within the grounds in which the building is situated.”

And it adds: “The only logo which can be used in signage or on any display in the window or on the exterior of the building or in the grounds of the building is that of the Northern Ireland Assembly Flax logo.”

The DUP in Londonderry said it would not preempt any decision by the party at a regional level.

But whilst local representatives were keeping their powder dry it was fairly clear on Tuesday that there’s no will to break from tradition in Londonderry.

Waterside Councillor David Ramsey said: “We’re flying the flag as we do every year. We’re also selling Union Flags for £4 each, which is something we also do every year. Constituents come in looking for them around the Twelfth so we’ll be providing that service.”