Ulster Unionist North Down MLA Leslie Cree spoke today in an Assembly debate to oppose the establishment of an ad hoc committee to deal with flags, emblems, symbols and language and urged a focus on job creation, educational underachievement and housing.
Mr Cree, who is also the Party representative on the Assembly Commission, said:
‘’The issue of flags, emblems, symbols and language are always emotive and sensitive issues in Northern Ireland and that is evident through the volatile climate seen on our streets over the last number of months following the difficulties caused by the decision at Belfast City Council to remove the Union Flag on all but designated days.
The Assembly Commission has clear responsibilities and I believe that it is the proper place for this subject matter to be considered and for that reason I and my Party are opposed to the establishment of an ad hoc committee. I fail to see how we need a new way of dealing with these areas when we already have an appropriate mechanism in place. Indeed the Commission has attempted to meet on a number of occasions recently to progress this matter with the SDLP and Sinn Fein, as well as the Alliance Party, boycotting the meetings.
It is disappointing that, whilst the economy is still struggling and unemployment remains high, we are devoting so much time to setting up an un-necessary ad hoc committee on flags and emblems. As important and emotive this subject matter is, I do think the majority of people in Northern Ireland would rather us find solutions to issues such as job creation, educational underachievement and housing.’’