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Saturday 16 December 2017

Irish flag at Stormont House controversy is 'much ado about nothing' - McGuinness

Martin McGunness
Martin McGunness
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Sinn Fein deputy first minister Martin McGuinness and Democratic Unionist Party deputy leader Arlene Foster clashed at the North South Ministerial Council meeting over the flying of the Irish flag on Stormont House.

Mr McGuinness dismissed the controversy as “much ado about nothing” and said unionist were “over reacting” about the incident.

However, Ms Foster insisted it caused “huge offence” and called on the authorities to “get to the bottom” of how it happened as soon as possible.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland launched an investigation after the Irish flag was flown over the parliament building in Northern Ireland.

The hugely divisive issue of flags and parades has led to violent clashes between protester and police in recent years.

When asked about the incident at the North South Ministerial Council meeting, Mr McGuinness said: “We have more important things to deal with in terms of the challenges we face at the moment.”

He added: “At the same time, I do appreciate that our colleagues within unionism were concerned about it. I think some within unionism over reacted to it but at the same time we all have to recognise in the course of the discussion we were involved in around the Stormont House Agreement in terms of how we deal with the past.”

Ms Foster, who is the North’s finance minister, said whoever was responsible for erecting the flag showed disrespect to both the Irish and British flag.

“We do need to get to the bottom of it. Not least in terms of the security of Stormont because someone can bring two flags in and erect them over parliament buildings then there has to be huge issues in relations to security,” she added.

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