‘War’ over ownership of Irish colours

Martin McGuinness riled El Blogador’s heckles when he claimed on this week’s Politics Show that Sinn Fein represented the Green in the Irish Tricolour. It’s true that the party has made a number of proposals to put the Irish flag back into the centre of public life in the Republic, but argues El Mat, it belongs to all Irish Nationalists. Now here’s some thoughts that might follow:

– Does standing purely for the green in the flag signify an abandonment of the unification project?

– If people are queuing up to contest ownership of the Green: who, if anyone, is willing to claim the Orange in the flag?

– If the number of people from the Orange tradition who are prepared to stand to it were counted, would the inevitable paucity of their number count as a failure of the concept, or simply an example of poor work in progress?

  • The green … as well as the white and orange … as one unit … belongs to and represents all Irish people of Ireland (ROI), not just nationalists but everyone from all creeds who make up our nation. The green does not stand alone, neither does the orange, all three parts of the flag represent our nation and no one has ownership over a single part.

  • circles

    Think thats all that need be said on this one.
    Neat answer maca!

  • Dualta

    The Irish tricolour is damaged goods. It has been used to often as a weapon of ethnic conflict to intimidate and annoy Protestants in the north. The only flag any self respecting Republican would endorse is one which has the allegiance of all people on this island. Mr McGuinness can keep the green of it. I want none of it.

  • Alan

    And what about the people represented by the white part?

    How do we throw off the nationalistic shackles of the green and orange parts?

  • George

    Dualta,

    it is the people who have used the Irish flag as a weapon of ethnic conflict to intimidate and annoy Protestants in the north who are damaged goods not the flag of the Irish state and the Irish people.

  • Dualta

    I should add that El Blogador is welcome to it too, if that is what the SDLP sees as the way forward.

    If Nationalists think that Unionists are going to buy into the Irish Republic as it is presently constituted then they have a way to go to understand what will be necessary to establish a new nation on this island.

  • Dualta

    George,

    Protestants would most likely agree with both of us. I stand by my argument and agree with yours.

  • seabhac siulach

    ‘…but argues El Mat, it belongs to all Irish Nationalists…’

    Or as the song puts it, ‘Take it down from the mast Irish traitors, it’s a flag we republicans hold, it will never belong to Free Staters who have brought on it nothing but shame…’

    Ahem…

    Doesn’t the green in the flag not stand for the native gaelic peoples of Ireland and the orange for the planted English/Scottish. If Sinn Fein is still a real republican party, then it is surely representative of all colours in the flag as its aim is to unite, Catholic, Protestant and dissenter. But then, perhaps, real republican parties do not do things like taking seats in Stormont, swearing oaths of allegiance and supporting the PSNI…

  • Dualta @ 12:39

    What does this have to do with the flag?

  • Dualta

    Maca,

    The Irish tricolour is the flag of the Irish Republic. Do you think Unionists and Protestants will just one day accept to join that state without asking for any changes to it?

    I would imagine that if such a momentous day came that all parties on this island sat down to discuss unification that the Unionists would arrive at the table with an extensive list of desired changes, if not the demand that we build a new nation from scratch. The flag, the anthem and all the regalia of the Irish Republic would most likely have to go.

  • Dec

    The flag, the anthem and all the regalia of the Irish Republic would most likely have to go.

    Doesn’t look good for TG4…

  • Dualta
    “Do you think Unionists and Protestants will just one day accept to join that state without asking for any changes to it?”

    I think they will never accept to join the state and no amount of flag changes will make one jot of difference to protestants/unionists.

    IF, and I don’t see it happening, we are discussing unification then I think the flag would be bottom of the list. It’s a fairly insignificant thing IMO, there would be a hundred much bigger issues to be addressed.

  • George

    seabhac siulach,
    the green also represents the Anglo-Normans, the men and women of the Pale, otherwise known as greater Dublin, and the people of other former British garrison towns.

    Dualta,
    any changes to the Irish Constitution, including Article 7 which deals with the flag of the country, will come about by a democratic referendum of the people of Ireland.

    If it is the wish of the Irish people to retain the tricolour of green, white and orange as the national flag, then it will remain. If not it will go. Can’t see it going myself.

    I’m with maca,
    the flag is a symbol. Symbolism seems a bigger issue north of the border. It might not always be so.

    As for building a new nation from scratch, the big question is what legal protections are missing from the current Irish constitution that need to be put in for unionists apart from the Irish language issue?

    I would like to hear that from unionists.

    In the “doomsday” scenario of a united Ireland, worried unionist people would be a lot more concerned about ensuring they had the same health services, the same employment prospects, their pensions guaranteed, culture protected and cherished etc. than getting a graphic designer to come up with a new flag.

    Well I hope they would. I certainly can’t see the flag being the showstopper if it ever got that far.

    I can hear the Irish government now:

    “We’ll give the Orange Order 500 million to revamp their halls throughout the island and anything else you feel is necessary to protect the Orange culture on this island if we can leave Article 7 as it is. How about it?”

  • DK

    DK

    my understanding is that SF and many other republican organisations have never accepted the 26 county state as legitimate. Any unified state must start from a clean sheet of paper.

    As someone from a unionist background, I am happy to give consideration to a unified state on that basis. I will not accept a takeover or merger into the current southern regime.

    The flag will be an issue although I agree there will be many more serious issues. However, they are for another day. As far as the flag goes, a new unified Ireland should not just adopt a flag from a previous regime which never had the allegience of all the people on the Island and whose flag was used as a rallying point for a one side in a bitter sectarian war.

    Ridiculous proposition.

  • Crataegus

    If we were at a stage where we were entering into talks about unity it would seem appropriate to make a clean start, national anthems, flags and all the rest. As stated these are purely symbolic but it would be interesting to have a recognition of change and new inclusive identity. I agree there are more important issues north and south, but that said should we assume that if requests for such change were made they would therefore be regarded as fairly trivial. Somehow I doubt it.

    Judging by the debate on PSNI perhaps some believe we should simply omit the green and orange and be left with a white flag. The white of peace perhaps?

  • “should we assume that if requests for such change were made they would therefore be regarded as fairly trivial”

    Of course change would be needed but I think unionists would have far greater concerns than the colour of a flag.

  • Dualta

    DK said:

    “[i]Any unified state must start from a clean sheet of paper.

    As someone from a unionist background, I am happy to give consideration to a unified state on that basis. I will not accept a takeover or merger into the current southern regime.[/i]

    I rest my case.

  • kloot

    Of course change would be needed but I think unionists would have far greater concerns than the colour of a flag.

    I doubt it. It seems to me that symbolism always trumps practicalism when it comes to the North.

    If we are to have a Unified Ireland then it will have to be seen as two independant equal states coming together and forming a new entity. While the flag and the anthem are just symbols, they are also indicators as to a willingness to change. They represent one part of the community on the Island that they other community have said they want nothing to do with. They represent the past.

    A new Ireland will require an acceptance of our Unionist and British past. Stronger links to the UK will surely be necessary.

    Surely our sense of irishness could survive these symbols being changed.

  • DK said:

    “The flag will be an issue although I agree there will be many more serious issues

    I rest my case.

  • kloot
    “I doubt it.”

    We had this specific conversation [re: (re)unification] previously and numerous unionists expressed far more serious concerns than simply the issue of flag colour or even anthem. It’s all in the Slugger archives.

  • Crataegus

    Dualta

    The flag, the anthem and all the regalia of the Irish Republic would most likely have to go.

    A clean sweep representing the new Ireland may not be a bad thing, perhaps even overdue? Although flags and the like are fairly trivial in the overall context, sometimes symbols are important as they show willingness to accommodate or lack of willingness as we are all painfully aware in NI.

  • kloot

    The flag, the anthem and all the regalia of the Irish Republic would most likely have to go.

    although id have one limitation and im not for moving on this one… If Phil Coulter or Brian Kennedy have anything to do with the new anthem, then the deal is OFF!!! OFF i tell you

  • North-South Unification Negotiation Day 12

    Unionist spokesperson:
    “Item 215: We need a new flag”

    Southern Spokesperson
    “Done. We have come up with some suggestions. See Appendix 17 in your Unification Whitepaper”

    Unionist Spokesperson
    “Item 216: we also need a new national anthem”

    Southern Spokesperson
    “Grand. Phil Coulter is working on one as we speak.”

  • Maca-

    “The green … as well as the white and orange … as one unit … belongs to and represents all Irish people of Ireland (ROI), not just nationalists but everyone from all creeds who make up our nation. The green does not stand alone, neither does the orange, all three parts of the flag represent our nation and no one has ownership over a single part.”

    Just to be clear, I agree completely with what you said. My gripe about McGuinness’ comments is that he incinuated that the ‘green’ element of the flag, which is generally representative of nationalism on this island, was linked to PSF alone.

    As regards the flag itself, it is owned by all the people of Ireland, regardless of political or religious opinion.

    No part stands alone, and no part should be taken out of context and claimed as one’s own.

  • lib2016

    What unionists who object to the Tricolour fail to realise is that their ‘British’ identity is in freefall. With all the goodwill in the world they have no credible flags or other emblems unless one counts Rangers football shirts.

    Of course a UI will democratically plump with the Tricolour and it’s links with the French Revolution and the ongoing battle for democracy. Just as the ANC asked the French to declare their Parliament open rather than the former imperial power with it’s long antidemocratic tradition.

    What unionists are actually objecting to is that they won’t have a special position nor an undemocratic veto. That’s what equality means, folks. Sometimes it suits and sometimes it doesn’t but it is the only way to go.

  • Brian Boru

    “Does standing purely for the green in the flag signify an abandonment of the unification project?”

    The Tricolour is not the property on one party and it is arrogant for any party to claim otherwise. Obviously, a small minority within Nationalism would stand only for the Green in the flag in the sense that they would seek a return to the bad old days of a “Catholic state for a Catholic people” but I consider that the vast, vast majority would prefer an Ireland as represented in the flag as intended by the designers of the flag as representing a nonsectarian independent 32 county republic. Personally I would advocate that.

    “- If people are queuing up to contest ownership of the Green: who, if anyone, is willing to claim the Orange in the flag?”

    Well perhaps Southern Protestants at present and maybe in a future UI, Northern Protestants would come to claim it too and consequent gain an affinity with the flag that is lacking at present (save a tiny minority such as Billy Leonard and Eddie Espie).

    “- If the number of people from the Orange tradition who are prepared to stand to it were counted, would the inevitable paucity of their number count as a failure of the concept, or simply an example of poor work in progress?”

    I think this is a long-term project which could yet take many decades to create the conditions for all on the island to identify with the flag. I think the process has already long since born fruit among the Southern-based descendents of Southern Protestant Unionists, and obviously among Protestant republicans it already has their allegiance. Many Orangemen in Donegal espouse a dual-identity of being both Irish and British for example. I think in a UI – especially as Northern Protestants wake up from the nightmarish fantasies drummed into them about the “priest-ridden republic”, they will increasingly identify with the flag as a symbol of the equality between the communities in the modern Irish State.

  • Reader

    lib2016: Of course a UI will democratically plump with the Tricolour
    So, how would that position be distinguished from majoritarianism? Is your unification white-paper different from maca’s, and are either of them online?

  • Brian Boru

    “So, how would that position be distinguished from majoritarianism? Is your unification white-paper different from maca’s, and are either of them online?”

    On the contrary the Tricolour represents equality betweeen Orange and Green, not majoritarianism.

  • Dualta

    Maca,

    I’ve not said anywhere on this thread that the flag should take priority over the constitution, the institutions of state or any other element of the current southern state when negotiating a new all island nation. It’s just that this thread is about the flag and that is why I was dealing with it in the first place.

    Brian Boru,

    It’s not what the Tricolour represents to anyone but the Unionist community. It is they who are most important in this issue. As a Nationalist I want them to join with the rest of us on this island in building a new home for us all.

  • George

    Dualta,
    I assume you are writing what you do as a northerner so therefore you have the detachment of someone for whom the tricolour is not the flag of his state.

    If you look at when this flag was conceived by Thomas Meagher for the 1848 revolution, things were different.

    The Orange was probably as dominant a force as the Green. It was meant to symbolise unity between the two traditions on this island, unity achieved under the republican ideal of France, Italy, the United States etc.

    A revolutionary dream then and a revolutionary dream now.

    But despite this, today in 2006 it is the national flag of 4.2 million of the 6 million inhabitants on this island with another 800,000 probably having an affinity with it.

    By 2020, if things go as they are we will have well over 6 million people for whom the Irish tricolour is the flag of choice and 1 million of the Orange tradition.

    I can’t see a simple jettisoning of this flag on the grounds that for unionists it is somehow tarnished, flawed or unrepresentative of the Irish people.

    Any future united Ireland, if it ever comes to pass, will be a Republic (80% of the island in 2006 is republican), have a written constitution and have a republican flag.

    The Irish people might prove me wrong but I can’t see it.

    They will kill the fatted calf for the return of the prodigal son but they will not slaughter the whole herd and torch the farm buildings just because he played no part in building up the homestead.

  • I am happy to give consideration to a unified state on that basis. I will not accept a takeover or merger into the current southern regime

    I would agree with that

  • George

    “I would agree with that.”

    Chris,
    Nice piece of lip service but what parts of the Irish constitution would you advocate the Irish Republic should remove? Or if that’s too much what parts would you advocate we keep?

    Let’s take these headings:
    Justice provisions – courts, justice
    Parliament
    President
    International relations
    Symbols
    Fundamental rights

    Link to the Bunreacht: http://www.taoiseach.gov.ie/upload/publications/297.htm

  • George

    I am on for creating a new Ireland, not an extension of the 26 counties or the 6 counties.

    I personally have no problem with most parts of Bunreacht Na hÉireann, that said I would be willing to look at all aspects of the constitution if it meant relieving GENUINE Unionist concerns.

    I will however look at your headings

    “Justice provisions – courts, justice”

    I support the Court structure, I like a strong Supreme Court that can challenge and rule out any government provision that is unconstitutional.

    “Parliament”

    The Seanad needs to change, it is totally unrepresentative of Irish society and is an ineffective second chamber.

    “President”

    Needs to be elected by all the people of Ireland

    “International relations”

    I support our position of Neutrality

    “Symbols”

    I support the symbols but am willing to talk about them to make Unionists feel more inculuded.

    “Fundamental rights”

    The Easter Proclamation and the programme of the first Dáil lay down my feelings with regard to fundemental rights.

  • George

    Chris,
    I feel what changes you want enacted in the Irish constitution are the same changes as the Irish State would be happy to do anyway.

    The Seanad needs to be reformed as it has no power whatsoever.

    You mention the First Dail and the Easter Proclamation. I would be interested to hear what fundamental rights you think aren’t already covered by the European Convention on Human Rights and the extra rights enshrined in the Irish constitution. I can’t think of any.

    I think everyone would agree that the legal system should stay the same because Common law works and works even better with a written constitution. Our law is English (Norman) anyway except in constitutional matters where it is American. Independent judiciary and Supreme Court as there is essential.

    You seem to say the office of President should also stay the same (obviously all of Ireland would vote in a united Ireland).

    Ireland should remain neutral – this actually isn’t part of the constitution which only forbids the stationing of foreign troops on foreign soil. We can join any alliance we want as long as it doesn’t involve foreign troops on our territory.

    So once we sort the senate it seems to come down to symbols.

    So, in reality, if we are honest, we are looking at a merger with at best a new brand name.

  • George

    should read “foreign troops on Irish soil”

  • George

    I am more interested with the policy of the new state as opposed to its symbols and codes.

    Free health care, free education, proper accountable policing, good inward investment, a stable economy, respect for cultural differences etc

    That said as an Irish Republican I am not the best person to ask about this as I am likely to agree with most of the functions of the 26 county state.

    It is Unionists that we should be talking to this about.

  • Dualta
    “I’ve not said anywhere on this thread that the flag should take priority over the constitution”

    Your 12:39 & 12:52 seem to place some degree of significance on the flag issue … which I consider would be a fairly insignificant issue if reunification were under negotiation.

  • George

    Chris,
    I agree so I’ll finish by saying I feel if the majority of people who support unification are to be honest, they should admit that they currently see the template for any united Ireland as being based on the Irish constituation to ensure the support of the majority on this island.

    It’s easy to say the southern “regime” will have to go but I’m afraid the reality is that, in 2006, southerners make up over two thirds of the population of this island.

    The answers to big questions like the form of Legislature, Judiciary, Executive and fundamental rights lie within that document.

    Naturally I am biased as it is my constitution but I feel northerners of all persuasions should realise we will not jettison something that has served us so well merely to placate minorities who have no alternative solution.

    The Irish constitution is the default postion, as far as I’m concerned. Change the senate, Irish language, flag etc. but the fundamental rights and procedures remain unless my northern brethren can come up with something better to protect me.

  • “which I consider” – which i think

  • George
    “Change … Irish language, …”

    In what way?

  • George

    Bunreacht Na hÉireann is as much my constitution as it is yours, the same with the National flag, National language, Sports etc. It is not a Northern Vs Southern debate.

    I don’t go in for Partionist thinking!

  • Dualta

    George,

    Discussing the nuts and bolts of building a new nation on this island is really jumping the gun a bit.

    Creating the will for such a project must be the primary goal of all Republicans and that means persuading northern Protestants that it is in their best interests to join with the rest of us in creating such a nation and I put it to you that they would not want to accept the Irish Tricolour as the flag of the nation, or The Soldier’s Song as its anthem.

    If such a day comes then everything must be on the table. A new nation, at peace with itself and prosperous, is some prize. Many have given up their lives for it. I’d certainly give up a flag.

  • Reader

    Brian Boru: On the contrary the Tricolour represents equality betweeen Orange and Green, not majoritarianism.
    Not in Real Life it doesn’t. In any case, imposing it unilaterally *is* majoritarianism. Insisting that you decide what it should mean to me is arrogant. Oh – and I’m not Orange.

  • kensei

    “The Irish constitution is the default postion, as far as I’m concerned.”

    I think a new state would need a rewrite of the Constituton. It’s not that the Irish Constitution isn’t something to be proud of, simply that it would be an important way to mark a new start. It would inevitably end up being largely the same, but the new one would also be informed by Northern Protstants, and indeed the new people coming in. Which is a good thing, surely?

    On the flag, I think my preferred option would be keeping the Tricolour in some role, such as the flag of the Dáil or the President but the state being represnted by something else. I’ve always liked the 4 pronvinces flag, personally.

  • Henry94

    I think a first step following a vote for unity would have to be elections to a constitutional convention tasked with writing a new document which would be put to the people of the island in a referendum.

  • Dualta

    Henry,

    That’s a very fair point, but I reckon that Unionists may well want guarantees before agreeing to unity.

    I would rather not wait for a sectarian headcount election in which Catholic/Nationalists were in the majority. It may never happen. I’d rather begin the process of persuading Protestants now. Their consent, support and participation is crucial to the success of any new nation.

  • George

    Dualta and kensei,
    of course it’s putting the cart before the horse. It’s a bit like discussing what you would do if you won a million euros or lost a leg (depending on how you view unification).

    I felt it was relevant to point out to northerners of both persuasions that the way I see it the Irish Republic isn’t just going to chuck out its constitution, legal system, symbols, legislature, executive etc in some mass love-in with its northern brethren.

    Currently, the Republic makes up 71% of the island population and its people aren’t going to change everything for some kind of pan-island Republic of Ulster, which could end up being hamstrung by laws and rules stuffed in to keep two warring or suspicious communites apart but at the expense of a functioning state.

    Henry’s suggestion is probably a very reasonable one but even today I would be pretty certain that the fundamental rights, justice provisions, republican form of government, role of president etc. would remain. A tweak here, a tweak there.

    Everything won’t be on the table.

    Sure senate reform, Irish language primacy, references to God, the preamble and natural law will all almost definitely go as might the flag but the substance of government and rights of citizens would most likely remain pretty much the same.

    That said, I could be wrong and either way it would all have to go to the people of Ireland for a vote.

    Maca,
    Currently, Irish is the first language so if there is confusion, the Irish constitutional text takes primacy. I would see a situation where English and Irish are put on an equal footing with the English text taking primacy if there is confusion.

    Chris,
    I’m not trying to be a partitionist, I’m trying to be a realist and the reality is that although, as you say, it is your constitution too, today in 2006 the constitution can only protect you within the borders of the current Republic.

  • Dualta

    George,

    You make a very important point about the need for the consent of the people of the Republic in all of this. I neven hear Northern Nationalists factor them in when talking about Irish unity, as if they’ll accept whatever is decided in their absence.

    Northern Nationalists need to understand that many, if not most, people in the Republic view their northern neighbours like the neighours from hell. It’s bad enough living next door to such neighbours, but it’s a different kettle of fish entirely when they turn up on your doorstep looking to move in.

    We have a lot to do to transform our relationship with Unionists in order to present ourselves as the sort of people you’d want to build a nation with. Now that the ‘armed struggle’ is out of the way now we can start the revolution we’ve been in need of for a few generations.

    We are viewed over the border and over the water as a social and political mess. Who in their right minds would want us?

  • caulfield

    I think symbols such as flags are of immense importance in terms of Northern Irish society. I appreciate the idea of unity behind the tricolour. Unfortunately the Irish flag was hijacked by “physical force” republicanism and is tarnished in the eyes of many unionists. A new state would need a new flag and a new anthem. Only a new start could possibly succeed.

  • lib2016

    We are losing sight of the fact that being a unionist automatically means opposing the institutions and symbols of any UI. If there is a UI it will come as a result of the emergence of a nationalist and presumably republican majority which hopefully will include a growing post-unionist element.

    It will not have the support of unionists. The best one can hope for from that quarter is ill- mannered abuse and a relucant recognition of the fact that bombing their way back into the British Empire is not practical.

    I, like others on this board, would be willing to consider sensible suggestions for a change of flags and emblems provided there was some evidence of a demand for it and a willingness to support agreed alternatives. Simply saying that one doesn’t like the Tricolour is not evidence of a willingness to consider alternatives let alone evidence that there is an alternative which could command support.

    As has been pointed out the vast majority on this island support the Tricolour, at least in part for its association with republican ideals of an inclusive democracy. It is for the unionists who have traditionally rejected all democratic solutions to come up with concrete suggestions for alternatives if they expect to be taken seriously.

    As for majoritarianism – it wasn’t republicans who gloried in their abuse of democracy and refused all attempts to introduce reforms.

  • Martin

    Lib 2016 – earlier in the thread, back on Oct 23rd, you made the point about democratic South Africa inviting the French to open Parliament rather than the former imperial power.

    This is true, but Democratic South Africa also re-joined the Commonwealth.

    http://www.thecommonwealth.org/YearbookHomeInternal/139444/

    As part of a give and take on largely simbolic issues would you hypothetically be prepared to follow this lead on behalf of the Unionist minority – as was the case in the RSA.

  • lib2016

    There is absolutely no problem about joining the Commonwealth for most republicans and in fact the President gave it as an instance of a convenient gesture which could easily be made.

    My point is that unionists were as completely disinterested in that as they are in every other constructive suggestion.

  • Martin

    Lib2016 – I think there is more resistance to the Commonwealth suggestion than you make out but your position vis-a-vis the South Africa example is refreshingly consistent. Occasionally Republicans who raise that example are not – not so in your case for which I applaud you.

  • George

    Martin,
    nobody in the Irish Republic is interested in the Commonwealth because we don’t need it and it has no economic or political value for the country.

    Come to think of it, in what way has it benefitted Northern Ireland?

    But if a significant minority wanted the new Republic to fund membership of this meaningless talking shop and minor sporting event, I don’t think you’d find much opposition on principle.

    The opposition would be on it being a waste of money and time. We already have good business and cultural links with the other former colonies, links we have nurtured through our own channels in the last 80 years.

    But if we have to turn up for a meeting twice a year in Nairobi or wherever, so be it. I for one won’t lose any sleep over it.

    Of course, seeing as everything seems to be give and take when it comes to dealing with unionists and nationalists, I naturally would hope the delegation travel under the Irish Tricolour in return.

  • Martin

    George,

    Flags have no tangible benefit to a country either. They’re a piece of cloth infused with symbolism.

    The Commonwealth equally is largely a symbol. Doesn’t mean much really but most people are happy at best and indifferent at worst to it. The French are setting up a similar forum for the Francophone nations and I would argue that the Commonwealth’s lead in pushing for sporting sanctions against South Africa made it far from meaningless in that context. It’s certainly not an effective international body, however, I’ll admit. But why use such condecending language?

    Sure you can describe the Commonwealth as a meaningless talking shop, and I could describe the Tricolour (or any other flag) as a meaningless piece of cloth. Both positions have a ring of truth if viewed from a certain viewpoint, but are nonetheless expressed as needlessly offensive positions primarily designed to wind up the other side.

    Contrary to what you suggest there are violent reactions against the Commonwealth in the Republic largely being put forward to not wanting to “bow” to the Queen notwithstanding that the Queen is to the Commonwealth what the Secretary-General is to the UN and no-one talks of bowing to him.

    OK, it’s an attitude rooted in an understandable spectrum of feelings of distruct through to hate of anyone and anything British/identifying with Britishness. A Dubliner who likes Abba and Ikea would never get called a “West Swede” but anyone in Ireland with an ounce of Anglophilia is denounced as a “West Brit” – understandable in historical context but hardly rational today.

    For example, your points have objective merit, but crucially what’s the point in denigrating something you know has symbolic value to someone esle by use of the adjectives like “pointless” and “waste” and “minor” if not to just get the back up of people who feel an affiliation with a British heritage. Using the same adjectives about the Irish Language would doubtless raise hackles here but a constructive debate could equally be had on the cost effecitveness of promotion of that language as with the maintenance of the Commonwealth.

    The language people use to denigrate the other tradition, whether it be traditional nationalist Anglophobia or sectarian unionism, is what gets depressing.

  • George

    Martin,
    The Commonwealth means nothing to me, I won’t pretend otherwise. It’s not denigrating anybody. It isn’t Anglophobia. It’s the way it is. We left nearly 60 years ago. How could I care, I didn’t even exist.

    As a southerner, I can tell you that the overwhelming majority also don’t give a toss about it.

    The idea that there would be a violent reaction to membership in the case of unification is a total joke.

    It has neither a positive nor a negative effect on the Irish people. We just don’t care.

    I might add that I have yet to hear anyone from Northern Ireland present a coherent argument for the benefits of joining. All I ever get is how it is an insult to unionism to say the Commonwealth is a talking shop that does nothing. Nobody can tell me what benefits it has brought or would bring to the people of the Irish Republic.

    That’s why I don’t mind playing the unionist-nationalist game of give and take.

    If it so relevant but in a symbolic way, let’s trade it for something that’s relevant and symbolic to southerners:

    Commonwealth membership for the Tricolour. Seems fair.

    By the way, “West Brit” is pretty archaic these days (it’s D4 or Dort set) and is now mostly used by those north of the border.

  • BeardyBoy

    Am I the only nationalist who despises the tricolour – its links with the murderous French republicans and their masonic revolt, the regicide and bloodletting, the rabid anti catholicism, why cannot we return to the blue background upon which the harp is displayed? As for this peace between the green and the orange – this is also very symbolic. The green is a compromise – add the original blue of Ireland to Orange and you get blue. We already compromised on this and we are being asked to compromise again. Just stop appeasing the foreigner and assert ourselves.

  • BeardyBoy

    OOOPS – add orange to blue and you get green – apologies

  • abucs

    And which colour do the Eastern Europeans identify with ?

    Apart from that, I think if the Irish Tricolour is to be not simply a bit of cloth but a principle to be aspired to, then there is an equal measure of Orange to Green in there.

    For the Irish tricolour to be “your flag” one would think that it would mean defending an Orange presence across all Ireland in equal measure to Green ? And if one group says i’m ‘Green’ then they would have to cede the right that it would be up to groups who say ‘i’m Orange’ to say what their 50% (or 33%) share of the unified identity is ?

    Is that workable ?

    Or does the Irish Tricolour belong to a different day ?

    Or does the Irish Tricolour not mean an equal measure of power and identity but something more intangible ? (and hence perhaps more wishy washy)

    If the flag is to stay the National flag after some potential unification, it will have to be the decision of the ‘Orange’ representatives, along with many other symbolic and tangible questions IMHO.