Flags and Emblems to be banned?

The Newsletter has got wind of a proposal in the forthcoming report based the widespread A Shared Future consultation, for “the removal of the likes of Ulster and Union Flags and loyalist emblems from major roads and interface areas”. A sensible calming measure, or (dare I say it) political correctness gone mad?

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    I better get away before I get crushed by the stampeding heard of unionist politicians rushing to support an initiative to remove loyalist paramilitary flags.

  • maca

    It seems silly that flags and emblems need to be banned at all. But NI being a silly place…

    Political correctness? No, I don’t think so. There were talks recently about banning the swastika. It’s the same thing, removing symbols of hatred.

    Having said that, banning them from major roads and interface areas is one thing, a complete ban is wrong IMHO. There’s nothing wrong with the Ulster or Union Flags and banning them completely is acknowledging that they are symbols of hate, which I don’t believe they are.

    What is the current situation wrt the Irish Tricolour?

  • vespasian

    If the law was changed to say that flags could only be flown from privately owned buidings or flag poles and with the owners consent then it should be sufficient.

    The use of lamp posts, electricty poles or telegraph poles is the major problem as the flags are normally tattered and torn and unsightly, not to mention intimidatory.

  • Ziznivy

    I hope this includes the removal of Palestinian flags from the region of the West Link.

  • Friendly Fire

    Can we ban election posters as well please?

  • Davros

    I think this would be a mistake.Flags and Emblems have important functions, banning them is likely to lead to other and more serious expressions of identity and territorial marking.

  • smcgiff

    ‘territorial marking.’

    Anyone else getting an image of Mad Dog peeing up against fire hydrant?

  • Davros

    It’s an important internal and external function of Flags, emblems and murals Seamus.

  • smcgiff

    ‘It’s an important internal and external function of Flags, emblems and murals Seamus.’

    Or to put it another way – Them and us.

  • Alan2

    “If the law was changed to say that flags could only be flown from privately owned buidings or flag poles and with the owners consent then it should be sufficient.”

    Are we also going to ban Christmas decorations? Surely the use of public property in such a manner is offensive to religious minorities?

    Ok I am winding but it is the same thing. Loyalist paramilitary flags should not be flown but Union, “Ulster” and indeed the Tri-colour or any other emblem not directly associated with terrorists should be OK. What I would like to see is if flags are being erected that they are brought down again in August.

  • Davros

    Wishing that divion away won’t work Seamus. All that will happen is that other means of expressing the difference and claiming the territory will be found.
    This is likely to be counterproductive.

  • smcgiff

    It’ll be a reason to pick a fight if needed, Davros. Whenever has there been a shortage of those in NI?

  • maca

    I’d nearly go the other way and encourage people to display the “appropriate” symbols so ye all just get used to seeing them about the place and maybe in time you’ll be so accustomed to them no offence will be taken.
    Terrorist/hate symbols on the other hand must be continually torn down and should be publicly burned.

  • Davros

    Terrorist/hate symbols on the other hand must be continually torn down and should be publicly burned.

    While I’m tempted to agree with you , who decides on
    what is a “Terrorist/hate symbol” ? Remember way back one of the earliest signs that things was going to be nasty was Paisley’s demands and threats about the presence of what he and his supporters considered unacceptable … the Tricolour.

  • smcgiff

    Alan2, National flags, of whatever hue, should not be used as lamppost decorations.

    Fly them from houses. I wish people in the ROI would be more proud of their flag on national holidays etc. It’s an uplifting sight.

  • ShayPaul

    Maca

    See your points well, the legislation should (and this is the difficult bit) treat the intention and not the colour of the rag concerned.

    Terrorist/hate being the intention.

  • Davros

    p.s. … let’s hope that twit from Strathclyde isn’t consulted or goodbye to people wearing Ulster Rugby shirts and all the other legitimate manifestations of the red hand LOL

  • maca

    Dav
    “While I’m tempted to agree with you , who decides on what is a “Terrorist/hate symbol” ?”

    They (Independent Northern Ireland Flag, Emblem, Mural and Hate Symbol Monitoring and Control Authority ;)) could start with anything containing, for example, the initials of illegal groups or any flags/emblems which are ONLY used by illegal groups. Get rid of the obvious ones first, negotiate the less obvious ones. If in doubt leave it be.

    Seamus
    “Fly them from houses. I wish people in the ROI would be more proud of their flag on national holidays etc. It’s an uplifting sight.”

    Almost once per week EVERY public building and apartment block as well as many private residences fly the national flag here. There should be more of that at home IMHO. There doesn’t need to be anything sinister in flying it.

  • aquifer

    Take them down

    There are tattered rags about that are a disgrace to any cause. At least the Americans treat their flag with respect, often taking it down each evening etc.

    Intimidation and permanent free public advertising for binary and destructive politics should be stopped. And when people have guns, it is intimidation.

    If people put flags on their own property thats OK. At least they can be held legally accountable for any offence they cause.

    When are the DRD going to paint kerbstones concrete colour like they should be?

  • Jacko

    “If the law was changed to say that flags could only be flown from privately owned buidings or flag poles and with the owners consent then it should be sufficient”.

    I think that is the plan, and, in my view, a good one it is.

    As for all this crap about insults to the community, identity etc. – hundreds of national flags hanging in tatters from everything that couldn’t get out of the way, is an absolute disgrace to the flag in question. Not to mention frightening to strangers visiting the area, lowering local house prices and allowing paramilitaries to say, in effect, we own this particular place.

  • Keith M

    Being a bit of an amateur vexicologist I have special interest in this subject. Firstly, I think the way that flags are used in Northern Ireland is completly inappropriate for building a bond between the communities.

    I believe that the following changes should be made;
    The National Flag (the union flag) should only be flown from public buildings on designated days (Queen’s birthday etc). Anyone wishing to fly it on their own property should be allowed to do it, under licence. Any other flying of the flag (lamp poles etc, should be banned).

    The flag of the Republic of Ireland, should be banned except for specially licenced uses such as hotels etc. or when representatives from the Republic are visiting.

    There should be a competition to design a new flag for Northern Ireland. A committe consisting of representatives from both committees should choose the winning design and that should be used on all public buildings.

    All of this may sound rather draconian, but as I said, the way that flags (of all hues) have been used as territorial markers in N.I., is simply not acceptable.

  • maca

    Keith
    “The flag of the Republic of Ireland, should be banned except for specially licenced uses such as hotels etc. or when representatives from the Republic are visiting.”

    Personally I think it is totally unacceptable to ban ANY national flag, especially the flag with which a considerable portion of the population identifies. Allow it in public/private buildings where someone can be held accountable.

    Of course, any flying of our National Flag should first meet the guidelines in place. [a href=”http://www.taoiseach.gov.ie/upload/publications/1104.pdf”>Pdf/Word]

  • maca

    Oops…
    Pdf

  • Alan2

    “If in doubt leave it be”

    That could actually be quite alot of them if you really wanted to argue the point. Is say UVF 1912 different from UVF. Was YCV ever an illegal organisation? No – pre partition it was like the Boy Scouts.

    Could backfire tremendously.

    “When are the DRD going to paint kerbstones concrete colour like they should be?”

    surely it is down to the community to decide that…..a side effect of certain communities “owning” certain areas and public places and the voluntary segregation of communities (enshrined in the good friday agreement and encouranged by the likes of the parades commission)

  • ShayPaul

    Can’t resist :

    Patriotism is the last rock
    to which a scoundrel clings
    Steal a little
    and they put you in jail
    Steal a lot
    and they make you a king

    Bob Dylan

    Good enough reason as any for being a republican

    ;0)

  • maca

    Alan2
    “If in doubt leave it be”
    “That could actually be quite alot of them if you…”

    I’d hope some common sense (if it exists) would come into play. My suggestion is not a hard and fast fix, just an idea which i’d hope is worth exploring.

    I’d say anything with UVF on it should be burned, along with anything with IRA on it.

  • ShayPaul

    maca

    What about the guys with tattoos ?

  • maca

    “What about the guys with tattoos ?”

    Spike island.

  • George

    Spike Island has been closed Maca and I think the locals might have issues about it being re-opened to house Jonny Adair tattoo types…

  • Davros

    I think the way that flags are used in Northern Ireland is completly inappropriate for building a bond between the communities.

    Of course – that’s why they are displayed, to state a difference.

  • IJP

    That abuse of the Union Flag is offensive all round, even to those who hold it dear, is fact, not political correctness!

    However, the law stopping these flags flying off public property (e.g. lampposts) already exists! The police need simply apply it!

  • IJP

    Roger

    Excellent first post!

    Maca

    Sorry but ‘banning’, alongside ‘exclusion’ and ‘boycotting’, has never worked in NI and never will.

    What is required is:
    – PSNI to apply the existing law (requiring planning permission for tampering with public property, e.g. flying a flag off it);
    – education to show that flying the Union Flag in a divisive way is entirely inappropriate.

  • maca

    George
    “Spike Island has been closed”
    Aye, but it can be re-opened. (i wasn’t serious btw ;))

    IJP
    “Sorry but ‘banning’…has never worked in NI and never will.”
    “- PSNI to apply the existing law “

    The existing law is esssentially “banning” the flying of flags on public property. So if the PSNI apply this law they essentially uphold the “ban” 😉

  • Davros

    Maca- great link . Nice to see the Harp – is that debate still rumbling on at ATW ? LOL.

  • willowfield

    Paramilitary flags should be outlawed; displaying them should be an offence; and the police should have powers to remove such flags.

    The display of legal flags, then, should be allowed and tolerated on private property, as long as the owner has consented to such displays.

    The display of legal flags on public property should not be allowed unless with the permission of the public authority in question.

    Quite simple.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    One interesting recent development was this, below, from the BBC.

    Legally, it has now been accepted that being in possession of a flag with the emblem of a paramilitary group can be interpreted as soliciting support for a proscribed organisation.

    * * *

    Men jailed over loyalist flags

    Four men have been sent to jail for displaying loyalist paramilitary flags in County Down.
    They were the first prosecutions of their kind under the Terrorism Act.

    The offences date back to last summer when Loyalist Volunteer Force flags were erected in the Loughview housing estate in Holywood.

    Alan Robert Ferguson, 18, from West Link, Holywood, Stephen Walker, 18, from Priory End, Holywood, and Robert Warnock, 20, of Glendu Park, Belfast, were jailed for four months.

    Jamie Clarke, 18, of The Green, Holywood, was jailed for five months.

    The four had earlier denied various charges of displaying LVF flags in such a way as to arouse suspicion they were involved with the paramilitary organisation.

    A solicitor for one of the four, Jamie Clarke, claimed they had fallen victim to a police crackdown after media reports highlighted the concerns of residents in the mixed Loughview estate.

    The offences were committed on 11 June 2003 when, at various times, police saw the men in possession of a black Loyalist Volunteer Force flag.

    Clarke was also seen displaying an LVF flag on 12 July.

    The four had been convicted earlier this month, but sentencing at Bangor Magistrates Court had been put back until Wednesday.

    PSNI Inspector Michael Currie welcomed the jail setences, saying the majority of people in Holywood wanted to live free from sectarianism.

    Alliance Justice spokesperson Stephen Farry also welcomed the sentencing.

    “These sentences set an important precedent and send out a powerful message,” he said.

    “If people are going to display paramilitary flags, they are now clearly exposing themselves to the risk of a criminal prosecution, with the potential for a custodial sentence.”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/3587087.stm

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Gonzo,

    the PSNI probably acted because of the location and because they can face down the small LVF.

    On other occasions they actually stand guard while the UDA and UVF (using cherry pickers) put up their paramilitary flags.

    The problem of paramilitary flags is an exclusively unionist problem, except of course when their paramiltaries erect the flags in mixed areas or at interfaces.

  • IJP

    Pat

    On other occasions they actually stand guard while the UDA and UVF (using cherry pickers) put up their paramilitary flags.

    If this is true, it is utterly outrageous.

    Do you know where and when this has happened?

    Did you take it up with the PSNI or the Police Ombudsman?

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    IJP,

    it happened on the Crumlin Rd and along the length of the Ballysillan Rd to the Oldpark Rd junction. At the time I thought it was because there was tension in the area between the various groups and the cops were preventing them from killing each other.

    I’ll assume your having a laugh with point three.

  • James

    “the removal of the likes of Ulster and Union Flags and loyalist emblems from major roads and interface areas”.

    The tourist in me would certainly appreciate it if all the road graffiti was taken off the A2 going up the Ards Peninsula. It looks like hell to the uninformed and makes the informed wonder if he hasn’t stumbled into a nightmare den of Lenny Murphys.

    By far the worst offense was the ugly smear of tacky loyalist graffiti next to the restaurant in Portavogie. Christ, the Quays is the only place you can get a drink without trucking down the peninsula to Portaferry and those lummoxes had to muck it up.

    And while we are about it, why not point out how grossly unpatriotic it is to leave the standard to which you pledge your life to be blown to tatters by the elements. Retire those featureless, sun-bleached rags, ferchristsakes.

  • Anna

    The flags are frightening to strangers,and they should be banned,except on privately owned properties.Banning them completely is one more way of saying,”you do as I say.” And who likes being told that.Not a bad idea,but it wouldn’t work.
    Anna.

  • IJP

    Pat

    Thanks.

    But why would I be having a laugh with Point 3? Why did you not take up the issue with the Police Ombudsman?

    James

    100% correct. That potential tourist route is a disgrace.

  • dave

    All flags down, i don’t think so.

    The Union Flag is the national flag of Ulster, it should always be flying,the province flag (ulster flag) should also be flying.

    All other flags have no RIGHT to be flying as they are not the National or province flag.

    What the hell is wrong with you people?

  • Davros

    Why did you not take up the issue with the Police Ombudsman?

    my guess is that pat would be terrified she would do something … which would mean he could no longer claim victim status by proxy.

  • IJP

    Maca

    As usual we’re in agreement, I’m merely pointing out that there is an issue of presentation – ‘banning’ flags comes across much worse than ‘applying the existing law to ensure whole estates don’t get defaced’.

    Dave

    If you’re so strong on the law concerning flags, you would know that the ‘Ulster Flag’ has not been official since 1974, thus by your own logic you have no RIGHT to fly it.

    You also have a RESPONSIBILITY not to alienate people and annoy people by defacing an entire estate with ripped-up flags of any sort.

    Davros

    Surely not…?! 🙂