Northern Ireland

Naomi Long criticises DUP over 'direct attack' on flag issue

Flag leafet distributed by DUP and UUP activists
Image caption The DUP and UUP have distributed thousands of leaflets across Belfast printed in the Alliance party's distinctive yellow colours

The Alliance MP Naomi Long has accused the DUP of stirring up controversy over the flying of the Union flag outside Belfast City Hall.

The MP claims it is part of their campaign to recapture her East Belfast seat at the next Westminster election.

Belfast City Council will decide on Monday night whether to keep the flag, take it down or fly it for 17 designated days during the year.

DUP leader Peter Robinson lost his Westminster seat to Naomi Long in 2010.

The Alliance deputy leader told the BBC's Inside Politics programme it's no coincidence that her name featured prominently on tens of thousands of Alliance style leaflets printed by unionists to raise awareness of the flag issue.

Image caption Naomi Long won her Westminster east Belfast seat in 2010.

"The reason they are stirring this up is quite clear. It is my winning of the east Belfast seat and their attempt to take it back," she said.

"That is why my name, my address, my phone number and my e-mail address were placed on these leaflets and not those of the councillors who will be there on Monday night to take the decision.

"This was not about trying to inform councillors of public opinion. This was a direct attack on me as the MP for east Belfast."

Belfast City Council's policy committee has recommended that the Union flag no longer fly over the City Hall.

For the motion to take effect the decision must be ratified by the full council on 3 December.

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