IT was too good to last. After the Union flag and the Irish tricolour flew alongside one another for the first time at a war memorial in Derry to remember Irish and British soldiers killed at the Battle of Messines in 1917, someone had to complain.The DUP’s Willie Hay had the following objections to the flying of the Irish flag alongside the Union flag (as well as a few other nations):
People have no problem with the Legion coming up from the South of Ireland but what has annoyed some people, and rightly so, is this plan to fly the Union Flag and tricolour side by side. This conjures up all sorts of problems.
I and my fellow unionist councillors received a number of calls on this issue. While it is interesting to note the Irish government have finally recognised the role of their countrymen in the First and Second World Wars, there are genuine concerns that some in the nationalist community could use this situation to see that the tricolour could be flown alongside the union flag on other occasions.
It is alright in principal, and I agree that other flags were flown, but when you look at the situation with flags in this city, it is a step too far for unionists.
While I realise that the 16th Irish division fought alongside the Ulster division and I applaud their role, I think they should be remembered under the same flag, the Union flag, because it was more or less a war that Britain supported and fought.
There was no trouble at the event, which seemed to be a real attempt to remember the war dead of six nations together. What on earth was Mr Hay so afraid of? Has he been upstaged by a peaceful parade?