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Party gen secs to meet on flags

Published:Monday | May 18, 2015 | 12:00 AMGary Spaulding

The two major political parties have given undertakings that they will be pulling out all the stops to keep flags at bay, as looming national elections influence heightened political activities across the island.

"There was agreement between us, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the People's National Party (PNP), that it was not something to be encouraged," PNP General Secretary Paul Burke told The Gleaner yesterday.

"We need to follow up on our discussion and come to some established protocol."

The presence of political flags on utility poles in volatile Spanish Town, St Catherine, has brought the illegal practice under public glare as residents grumbled at the sight of the orange and green flags representing the PNP and JLP.

Burke told The Gleaner that he would be meeting with JLP General Secretary Dr Horace Chang on the matter.

Like Member of Parliament for North Central St. Catherine, Natalie Neita Headley, Burke said the flags were placed in the area when PNP President Portia Simpson Miller attended a meeting of the party's National Executive Council (NEC) in Wynter's Pen.

"This has nothing to do with campaign fever, we had an NEC at Wynter's Pen and in their enthusiasm, they overdid it and they should have come down," he said.

Yesterday, all the orange flags that competed with green ones on the busy Walks Road thoroughfare had been taken down, in keeping with an undertaking by Neita Headley.

However, although the JLP caretaker candidate for the Angels division Kewrensia Morrison decried the PNP actions in putting up the flags first, the green ones were still on utility poles in the community.

Burke said if he had seen the flags he would have instructed that they be taken down immediately after the PNP meeting.

Acknowledging that the practice is illegal, Burke said he and Chang had initial discussions on.

"It's a matter that we need to follow up on," he said.

Burke noted that an anti-flag clause was established in the Political Code of Conduct that was crafted under the watchful eye of former Political Ombudsman Bishop Herro Blair.

"We need to adhere to what we signed to," he said.

Chang said the JLP would also ensure that the provision in the Code of Conduct is observed.

"There was an understanding with the political ombudsman, that we would not have flags in communities," he said.

"We no longer have a political ombudsman but I expect the understanding would remain, emotions are high and people have got used to putting up flags so we must guide them in not doing so as we proceed," Chang added.