London Letter: A new flag for Northern Ireland?

A Tory MP said yesterday that Northern Ireland should have its own recognised flag, but is it realistic to think that the people of Northern Ireland could ever become united under one flag, symbol and nation?

The MP in question, Andrew Rosindell, dressed his dog, Spike, in a union flag waistcoat whilst campaigning during the 1997 election, and is known for being in favour of firearm ownership, the death penalty and the detention of asylum seekers.

“Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK, the only region in Europe and the only area in Her Majesty’s realm that doesn’t have a recognised flag, and it should have a recognised flag,” said Rosindell.

“It’s always a delicate issue but they should have a flag. Some feel that the red hand is controversial so I think the obvious flag of Northern Ireland should be the cross of Saint Patrick. It’s already used in the PSNI badge, it appears in the Union flag and it’s Saint Patrick so nationalists should also be happy,” he said.

Rosindell, MP for the Romford constituency in Greater London, had tabled a question for Owen Patterson yesterday at Northern Ireland questions in Westminster. He planned to ask if he would bring forward proposals for an officially recognised flag for Northern Ireland. The Secretary of State ran out of time and didn’t get to answer the question but Rosindell is confident that he would have “great sympathy” with his views.

Dr Dominic Bryan, a lecturer in the Institute of Irish Studies at Queen’s University Belfast, said: “I think it’s bizarre that a Conservative would want to ask about that. It’s strange how often the question comes up, and it’s usually on official occasions because the First Minister and Deputy First Minister have no flag to represent them.”

Dr Bryan worked on a project a few years ago looking at how symbols change and how to encapsulate a new Northern Ireland.

“There’s quite a long history to the debate,” he said. “The Ulster banner used by unionists has no official status but it was used at the Commonwealth games.”

He said it could be argued that the red hand would be an obvious symbol to represent both the six counties of Northern Ireland and the nine counties of Ulster. Despite it being associated with unionism, it is also used in GAA circles and is on the Tyrone GAA jersey.

“My argument for the red hand is that it is used by both communities consistently. Many nationalists and republicans say the Saint Patrick’s flag is just a part of the Union flag so that would be their objection to that.”

TV presenter, Zoe Salmon, found herself in the middle of a sectarian row a few years ago when she suggested that the red hand of Ulster would be an appropriate symbol for a ‘Best of British’ logo for an airline on Blue Peter.

Scottish academic, David Miller, was one of the first to complain to the BBC about what she said, stating that the red hand is a symbol of the unionists and certainly not something “signed up to by the majority” of people in Northern Ireland and Ulster.

Dr Bryan points out that this shows a distinct ignorance on Miller’s part due to there being substantial evidence that the red hand is used by the nationalist community too.

According to Dr Bryan, when you put the idea of a new flag to people, almost everyone finds a reason not to like something about it.

Sharing Rosindell’s view to an extent, Dr Bryan agrees that Northern Ireland should have its own flag.

“As kids grow up they’d start to recognise a new flag and it would grow in popularity. I’m not saying people would fly it from poles but it could be used at rugby games and the like,” he said.

The notion that it would be likely for the population of Northern Ireland to agree on a flag to represent them, and to be used on official occasions, will undoubtedly be met with much scepticism.

As Dr Bryan says, there will always be someone, somewhere, who will disagree with some aspect of any new flag.

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  • DC

    Just stick with the Union Jack.

    The end.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Before we start designing a flag we need to know would ANY flag of whatever design be acceptable to everyone, ie. would republican reject it even if it was an Irish tricolour with a small white dot in the corner, and vice versa would DC accept the Union Jack with a small white dot in the corner. The National flag remains the Union Jack, but a regional flag would be useful, just like American & Canadian states have, in fact almost all countries do.

  • Drumlins Rock

    BTW, this issues has been discussed on another thread I did recently, and I think there is a link on it to some flag designs, for a rather funky soloution to flags debate check out the Newfoundland & Labrador one.

  • I did a story on this in today’s Irish News and readers will see two possible designs for flags by Dr Dominic Bryan.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Perhaps a joint flag made up of part Tricolour and part Union Jack proportionately based on the Election results (revised every 4 years) with a similarly adjustable white strip in the middle for the funny agnostic types Alliance, Greens etc.

  • I predict there will be another post on this very issue in six months time, such is the nature of the beast!

  • Drumlins Rock

    do we have to buy the Irish News to see them?
    Am wondering though, will republicans accept a flag of any design?

  • I think that the thing Northern Ireland needs – more, perhaps than anything else in the world – is an extended debate about flags and emblems.

  • You could just go into a shop and open up the front page and have a wee peep at page three… but you would be supporting the newspaper industry by buying it, wouldn’t you? So I say get the 50p and the 20p out and make the purchase!

    Failing that, I will attempt to get the pics up online later when I get home from work.

    Personally I don’t think any particular group would be content with any suggested flag designs. If both communities are to be represented on a flag, which would be the obvious path to go down, then those on the extreme fringe would oppose the representation of the other community.

    And maybe not even those on the extreme…more moderate people may just be against the idea of a Northern Ireland flag in general because they wouldn’t see the point in it. They would prefer to either use the tricolour or union jack, as they’d feel that they best represent their nationality.

  • Calgach

    How could anyone settle to be represented by a flag that is in any way connected to the union jack-the symbol of violent oppression and torture all over the world?
    Surely the most sensible solution was put forward with the creation of the tricolour-symbolising peace between orange and green, but it ended up on loyalist bonfires! there will never be a reasonable compromise with this attitude

  • DC

    I think the trouble with a new flag is that the working together of various cultures is only beginning and that a distinct new identity is yet to take form (at least in mainstream thinking) – the strands of various cultures and identities have yet to be sewn together inside Stormont – all of this mitigates against an end product – that of defining a new flag.

    So as Paul says if you dont have the nuts and bolts please don’t foist this upon us here – especially via a letter from London on regional matters – we just aren’t at that stage yet nor have the time for time consuming debates on identity politics given the primacy of economics right now!

    But, I would also agree in terms of the constitutional input into NI such as Britain and the Government of Ireland (in terms of infrastructure spend and diplomatic support abroad) that those two flags be used as and when appropriate.

    I’ve no problem with flying the tricolour so long as the financial commitment and input is genuine – much like the support from Britain is in the form of the block grant.

  • Dewi

    Any flag without a dragon on it ain’t worth bothering with…

  • circles

    As Obama said in another context – you can put lipstick on a pig.

  • Drumlins Rock

    maybe Bhutan will share theirs then Dewi.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Alas I dont buy the Irish News or any newspaper but I suspect Dominic Bryans flag is white and navy blue and has a cockrel in the centre (or Tottenham Hotspur colours). Dominic spends a lot of time telling students (a large number of whom are American or other exchange types that “symbols are only symbols” so Im surprised hes involved in this nonsense.

  • Behans Ghost

    The question of republicans accepting a new flag for NI is clearly a non starter as they feel they have an unswerving allegiance to the tri colour, the flag of the republic and the island of ireland.

    However, as it has been touched on above, any flag suggested for NI should not just be representative of traditional orange and green communities, but should reflect the much applauded new dispensation that we are meant to be living in and the new communities that have established themselves here as a result of this!

  • Curmudgeon

    Why not simply adopt the Tricolour ? (We all secretly know it’s only a matter of time…) What new emblem could be more inclusive than one representing Ireland’s two main relegious/cultural traditions between a central area reflecting honesty, peace and respect between the two? Oh, and it’s the Union FLAG you’re proposing DC…unless it’s flown aboard a ship.

  • Fionn

    St. Patricks flag is a non-starter, not just because its in the union jack but because its a makey-uppy flag, saints don’t get flags unless they’re martyred.

    Would anyone object to just adopting the ulster province flag, it should keep everyone happy, if only for different reasons

  • PaddyReilly

    Maybe they should just ban all flags in Northern Ireland, too many incidents start by waving them.

    St Patrick never had a cross, he died in bed in a Christian country, unmartyred, a confessor. The red thing in the Union Flag is the Fitzgerald Saltire.

    Perhaps the answer is to take the flag of the province of Ulster, divide it into 9 parts, and cut away three of them.

  • is it realistic to think that the people of Northern Ireland could ever become united under one flag, symbol and nation?

    Of course it is. The correct way to proceed is to have a flag which both traditions can buy into. It was done in South Africa. There is no reason why it can not be done for Northern Ireland.

    I suspect that any attempt to create a flag for Northern Ireland, even one which is neutral, would be blocked. I also think that the Nationalist Parties would have the strongest motives for blocking it. That is because it is not in their interest to have a shared future. Yes, SDLP, be honest. You can talk about a shared future until the cows come home but you know very well that a shared future means the death of your party.

    The Alliance party has already worked on this topic. Here is a link to their report. I totally agree with their recommendation

  • Drumlins Rock

    Paddy, had actually thought of that idea myself a while ago, a 2/3rds provincial ulster flag, but as I said would nationalist/republicans accept even a modified Tricolour if it was uniquely a NI flag.
    On the subject of flags, should there be an all Ireland flag that both communities accept without political connections?

  • gréagóir o frainclín

    The Union Flag is very apt for the ‘nation’ of Northern Ireland, after all, a proportion of its people are even more ‘British’ than those living in Britain! ….Well so they like to tell everyone!

    BTW, the tricolour should definitely be dropped as the flag of the Republic of Ireland. It was pre-mature adopting it. Besides why should republicans and folk of the ROI wave a flag that has a sizeable portion representing the very British folk of NI, the same people that some certain republicans made it their duty to murder in the past?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Flags are of course symbols……but obviously the key thing is what they symbolise. The unification of three kingdoms or the aspiration of peace between two hostile communities.
    One of these I dont identify with. But I fully respect the views of people who do.
    A third flag is unnecessary…….political correctness gone maaaaaaad….but Im sure the Conflict Resolution folks from er outside Norn Iron know whats best for us…….the people who actually live here.
    In a few years they will have forgotten about us and moved their healing powers to the Balkans or Iraq.
    Sorry……its a complete non-starter.
    But in a curious way I see a cross-community purpose to it.
    The new flag will burn equally well on Republican and Loyalist bonfires.
    Gin and tonics all round…and vol au vents in the Lanyon Building of course.

  • joeCanuck

    Has everyone forgetten the incident over a flag in Divis street back in 1964 where a raving FP Clergyman first made his name by inciting a very serious number of days rioting. Could be described as one of the opening rounds in our recent internecine “war”.

  • joeCanuck

    Meant to add “Let sleeping dogs lie”.

  • Joe,

    Some people here oppose a new flag because they perceive it as threatening their identity in the medium to long term while others oppose it because they believe it would stir up trouble.

    There is an identity crisis, particularly amongst the younger generation. A flag would go some way towards helping that problem. My son, for example, has no problem identifying as being Irish but he cant identify with the unionist, republican or nationalist versions of Irishness. He yearns for something different. He is not alone. There are young people, many of them Catholics who complain that they dont know what they are.

    I say, ignore the idiots who talk about burning flags and give Northern Ireland its own flag. We need one for sport, anyway. If this is not done, then they will use the default flag to represent Northern Ireland, which is the Ulster Banner. The latter is tainted by sectarian association. At least if we did adopt a flag, we would cut out the controversy felt by our sportspeople.

    Remember, only recently, Rory McIlroy unwittingly walked into the contoversy when he shared an Ulster Banner with Graeme McDowell following their triumph in the Ryder cup.

  • Rory Carr

    I just cannot believe that so many commenters have become exercised by a silly-bugger’s proposal from the idiosyncratic member for Romford. Shall I repeat that – ROMFORD! For Christ’s sake! Whatever difficulties Northern Ireland may have had or yet has, or however much its reputation may have suffered as a result, it has not sunk so low as to take any advice from bloody Romford, particularly given the lack of wisdom of its citizenry in electing the colourful Mr Rosindell. At least NI citizens have not proven to be so foolishly deluded by right-wing shamanism as to elect a Willie Frazer (or a Jim Allister for that matter). Yet.

  • DC

    I say, ignore the idiots who talk about burning flags and give Northern Ireland its own flag. We need one for sport, anyway.

    Why should there be a new flag for sport, whenever our lot – our MLAs – couldn’t even agree a new stadium for sport at the time when it mattered.

    Try getting the sport bit right first, then focus on flags later. No?

  • Drumlins Rock

    umm, DC we might be safer with the flag, these stadiums are a bit pricey.

  • Mickles

    In a part of the world where the SOLE purpose of flags is to rub the other side’s nose in it, and mark territory like pissing dogs, all tricolours, union jacks, ulster crosses, flags with uvf written on them – all need banned. Get rid of them. Replace them with anything or nothing for all I care, what do we need flags for, in case we forget where we live?

    Everyone I’ve met who thinks we need flags to define what kind of person we are, are morons. Morons will argue about flags, morons will want their flag displayed in certain places, and morons will believe a piece of coloured material actually means something.

  • I here the comments about talking about banning flags but since that is never going to happen, It seems to me that the suggestion is just a diversion to avoid debate on the substance of the topic.

  • Cyberbeagle

    Been a while since this subject has come again. If you’ve a design, or think you can do better than Professor Bryan – or support a new flag, then there’s a facebook group here – – indeed Catherine, there’s a whole lot of designs there that you could’ve used. In fact the ones that get the most support and postive feedback are the ones that feature the St. Patrick’s Cross!

  • You missed out Rosindell’s penchant for flogging, his sponsorship of the infamous “erotic dinner” in Parliament, his “cab-for-hire” acceptance of Gibraltar, Caribbean and Uzbeki freebies.

    Rosindell has cleared over a million in exes over the last seven years, including regularly being in the top claimants for “staying away from home” (understandable if home and constituency are Romford, though that also required Rosindell claiming maximum second-home allowance).

    This is Rosindell’s annual posturing: he has pulled similar tricks under the 10-minute rule in previous years.

    Obviously must be a slow news day.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Mr Carr is of course right. That Rosindell is a rent-a-quote back bench Tory of the worst kind. Obviously without the talent to be in government he has carved out a career for himself as a “character”. Or buffoon.
    As to Mr Canucks observation of a FP clergymans campaign to rid the province of offending Irish flags (yes that worked out well) it was certainly an eye opener to 12 year old boys at a school about 200 metres away.

  • There’s a ball right here, lads. Nobody want to play it?

    They would prefer to either use the tricolour or union jack, as they’d feel that they best represent their nationality.

    Isn’t that emblematic of the fundamental problem? Any suggestion of Northern Irish uniqueness is a threat to both traditions. Nationalists don’t like to be reminded that they’re not the same as the Free Staters, and Unionists don’t to be reminded that most people in GB think of them as Paddies.

    Of course, the argument that “we already have a flag” is completely bogus. Go to the US and you’ll see people flying both the national, state, and sometimes city or county flags simultaneously. The underlying problem of NI is the unspoken but widely held assumption that one must pick one identity, one side. It is this false dichotomy that must be challenged at every opportunity.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Absolutely correct Mr Gallagher.
    Which is exactly why the whole independent Norn Iron idea was rejected out of hand by nationalists and unionists alike. Inicidently am I right in thinking that the Minister (Ross????) had a flag designed … saltire on blue with something in the middle.
    But youre absoultely right……a flag gives a certain reality that undermines both traditions.
    But youre wrong in thinking that the suggestion from a known publicity seeker like Rosindell is not relevant.
    When that idea goes up the flagpole, nobody will salute.

  • Rosindell may be a fool, a fraud, a fantasist as well as a flag-waver, but let’s help the clown in his self-publicising buffoonery:

    Start, as usual with the CAIN site [in this case, Oh, my goodness! who ever thought one small statelet could generate so much bunting!

    Take the traditional flag of the O’Neill clan. Reduce by a third, roughly chop off one end, shred a bit off the bottom. Leave unfinished so the remainder slowly unravels.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Drumlins Rock

    The question isn’t whether republicans will accept any flag other than the Irish Tricolour, but whether unionists will accept the equal legitimacy of the Irish Tricolour alongside the Union Flag.

    Any discussion around a shared flag representing the northern state is doomed to failure precisely because it implies that unionism will not tolerate the equal expression of the Irish nationalist identity alongside that of the British unionist identity.

    Sort that one out and I actually think people would be more willing to discuss a regional banner precisely because it would not involve compromising on our distinctive national identities.

  • Drumlins Rock

    But they arent equal, the Union Flag is the National flag of NI, and will remain so as long as the majority wishes us to remain in the UK, this was all settled under the GFA, thats FACT pure and simple.
    What we are discussing is a regional flag for Northern Ireland, be it a region of the UK, Ireland or Europe, every other regional area of any nation I can think of has a flag for that region, the states of the USA for example, NI is most unusual in that it dosn’t, the opertunity for a symbol that both side can unite behind should not be rejected on a technicality.

  • Tomas Gorman

    The constitutional position has not been nailed down firmly enough to settle on a flag design. The retarded nature of democracy here is reflected in the absurd politics of symbolism and identity.

  • JeanMeslier

    Why don’t we have a 33 and a third of the flag dedicated to the planter tradition and colour it orange.
    Then have another 33 and a third dedicated to the native tradition and colour it green.
    Then, to symbolise pluralism, colour the middle 33 and a third – white.

    We then have a respectful orange, white and green new flag.

  • JeanMeslier @ 2:21 pm:

    A serious suggestion at last!

    Alternatively, and prompted by that CAIN page I noted above [], I was rather taken by the:

    The Crimson Flag (or The defiant ‘bloody flag’ of the Apprentice Boys of Derry)

    Now that could stand for the west of the statelet and one tradition, and we could superimpose Connolly’s Starry Plough for the east and the other one.

    Then we could all agree:

    Tá an bratach dhearg ar foluain! [open to correction: it’s a long while since Leaving Cert in 1960.]

  • john

    Good idea JeanMeslier although the Ivory coast might not be too happy about us stealing their flag!

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Well actually John the Ivory Coast stole our flag. 🙂
    The original flag first unveiled by Thomas F Meagher (Waterford 1st March 1848) had the orange on the “staff side” and green on the “fly” side, the exact reversal of today.
    And the proportions of the flag are different …the National Flag being twice as long as it is wide. Alas I dont know the proportions of the Ivory Coast flag. Its never really come up in conversation before.
    Two nations with the exact same flag design are Monaco and Indonesia (different ratios)
    Interestingly (as Rev Paisley) oft pointed out in regard to the British flag ….flying a flag upside down is a sign of distress…… quite possibly fo a few years we should fly the National Flag upside down.

  • It is an interesting historical irony that the original symbolism of the tricolour is now more applicable to Northern Ireland than it is to the Republic. It is something akin to the phenomenon where the meanings of the terms “nationalist” and “republican” are inverted in Ireland when compared to elsewhere in the world. But that’s water under the bridge. You might as well complain that “literally” and “practically” don’t have their proper meanings any more, for all the good it will do you. It’s too late for the tricolour as a symbol of reconciliation. Move on.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Oh I dont think there are many nationalists who think the National Flag is more important than National Unity. Personally I dont care if the flag is pink with yellow polka dots…………..well maybe not literally.

  • john

    Is anyone out there a bit techy and could somehow allow us to vote on the various different flags on the facebook link mentioned earlier.
    I quite liked the st patricks cross on a green background with the red hand of ulster inside a causeway stone. Anyone else got a paticular favourite apart from tricolour or union jack obviously

  • Perhaps we should have the red saltire of St Patrick (even though he is not a martyr) on a gold background (harking back to the provincial flag (of Ulster) with a harp on a shamrock in the middle ?

  • Reader

    JeanMeslier: We then have a respectful orange, white and green new flag.
    Does it look like the flag pictured in here?
    I think that horse has bolted.

  • andnowwhat

    Design whatever you want. It means nothing to nationalists but this thread reminds me of an old joke..

    Why is the red hand of Ulster always 10″ long?

    Because, if it was another 2″, it would be a foot.

  • joeCanuck

    I’ve always associated the colours red and green with Christmas and white for snow.
    But when A DUP politician can get incensed because the red on Santa’s helpers scarves is a bit too orangey for his liking, what hope is there for a new flag?

  • The obvious choice would be the Ulster `Independence` flag combines st patricks, st andrews with red hand and yellow star (presumably harkening to yellow 9 county ulster flag?)

  • john

    I have decided we should adopt the Basque flag.
    The Unionists will be happy becuse it looks like a Union Jack.
    The Republicans will be happy becuse it shows solidarity towards the Basque brothers.
    Glentoran fans will be happy because they use a similar flag at the Oval.
    I have cross analysed my findings and realised every man women and child falls into one of the above categories so problem solved.
    Will book my flight to Sweden for next years Nobel and in the mean time will sort out the Middle East

  • Chris Donnelly

    But they arent equal, the Union Flag is the National flag of NI, and will remain so as long as the majority wishes us to remain in the UK, this was all settled under the GFA, thats FACT pure and simple.

    Drumlins Rock

    Thank you for proving my point. If those pesky nationalists would only become unionists it would solve a lot of our problems, eh?????

  • Reader

    Chris Donnelly: Thank you for proving my point. If those pesky nationalists would only become unionists it would solve a lot of our problems, eh?????
    Strange logic – you seem to have got from A to Z by the simple expedient of leaving out 24 letters. But, setting that aside:
    Do you hope that unionists will become nationalists and your problems will go away? Or has SF given up on any such aspiration?

  • PaddyReilly

    Do you hope that unionists will become nationalists and your problems will go away

    My experience is that Irish Catholic people, even those of strongly Nationalist heritage, who have failed to carve a niche in their own country or are just bored with it, and then emigrate to England, do not continue in the FF/FG mode, which obviously is not viable in London or Birmingham, but actually knuckle down and empathise with British parties, Labour, Liberal Democrat and even a surprising number with the Conservatives.

    So presumably the moment Ulster Unionists find themselves irreversibly outnumbered, they will stop voting in conformity with their ancestors and start voting according to their wallet.

  • megs

    John, you sort of already can vote for many of those flags on Facebook (though you have to be signed up to Facebook). Just “like” the page at and then “like” the design you want to “vote” for.

    I also quite like that “st patricks cross on a green background with the red hand of ulster inside a causeway stone” one too. Contrary to what many of the cynics on here are saying, I recall an old thread here on Slugger where that design was also posted and getting positive remarks from both unionists and nationalists alike.

    I think that those that feel a Northern Irish part of their identity and want a “shared future” should be entitled to a regional Northern Irish flag. Those on the extremes who don’t want a “shared future” (including those from both sides who would NEVER accept any sort of Northern Irish flag whatsoever) would be better to simply abstain should it ever come to a vote, and allow representation for those who at least do feel in some part Northern Irish.

    PS: Slugger admins – can you please bring back the ability to reply directly to specific comments?! It’s getting confusing otherwise!

  • joeCanuck

    I wonder if one of our regular commenters thinks that all member states of the E.U. should simply fly a white flag, having surrendered their sovereignty to a bunch of bureauocrats?

  • joeCanuck

    Let’s expand the debate slightly.
    Who would be eligible to submit a proposed new design?
    How would a short list of candidates be decided?
    Who would have the final say and how?

  • Chris Donnelly

    You have (unwittingly) highlighted one of the problems with the ‘shared future’ agenda. Namely, that it can mean quite different things to different people.

    For you, it clearly involves the subjugation of the Irish nationalist identity in favour of an exclusively northern identity which unionists can feel a part of.

    For me, sharing the future involves affording equal respect to the National identities of the unionist and nationalist communities residing in this part of Ireland.

    One of the lessons of the centuries- old conflict in Ireland is surely that seeking to impose a definition of how we see the other so that it best suits our own preferred narrartive doesn’t work.

    Wrapping the message up in warm, fuzzy language won’t conceal that reality from people.

  • JeanMeslier


    I see you are indulging in hopeful tit-for-tat whataboutery.
    Vol. Begley was as much a symptom of what were the “troubles” as you or I.
    There were many mistakes just as there are in any conflict. But maybe you could educate me by stating what was the actual business taking place above Frizzel’s fish shop?

  • Chris,

    You’ve just proved my earlier point for me, thanks. Why should the promotion of a Northern Irish identity necessarily involve “subjugation” of the nationalist identity? Where does it state that one is only allowed to subscribe to a single identity?

  • Chris Donnelly

    Re-read my earlier comments in response to Drumlin as you’ve clearly picked me up wrong.

    Drumlin’s rejection of unionist recognition of the Irish nationalist identity in favour of the option of offering a shared regional identity clearly implies seeking to demote the Irish national identity.

    Multiple identities are possible- in fact quite possibly beneficial in our context. Many happily embrace more than one identity here- in my own circumstance, I’m fortunate enough to comfortably describe myself as an American and an Irishman.

    But getting the ‘context’ right can facilitate the development of circumstances whereby people are more willing to identify and embrace with a multi-layered identity.

    Hence the reason I suggested to Drumlin that affording equal legitimacy to the primary identities of the overwhelming majority of people residing in this state- as Irish or British- would remove any suspicion that the purpose of a newly promoted northern identity wasn’t really an effort to diminish the historical, cultural and political attachment to the Irish or British national identity.

  • PaddyReilly

    Chris Donnelly

    You are ensnared and lost in the crap Unionist arguments you have been fed with.

    First the ‘British’ bullshit. Only in the fairyland of Norn Iron is someone called Ihab Shoukri reckoned as ‘British’ and a white man called Gareth Parker reckoned an undesirable alien because he genuflects when he goes into Church.

    Only in the same benighted province are policeman and jailers reckoned to be of a different Nationality to those whom they police and jail.

    The trouble is of course not all Unionists are sold on the ”We are British” argument. Many are quite happy to be Irish.

    Politics in not about identity, politics is about power. A White man in South Africa is still a White man. But take away minority rule, take away Apartheid and he is a less than happy bunny, no better than the Africans who surround him, unless he really exerts himself. Identity is soon settled: you are who you are, and I am who I am. That’s how it works in England, where the pure native is becoming something of a rarity. But power is something that is fought over eternally.

  • megs

    “For you, it clearly involves the subjugation of the Irish nationalist identity in favour of an exclusively northern identity which unionists can feel a part of. ”

    Chris, all I can ask is what sort of absolutely paranoid universe do you live in? You do realise that the second word of “Northern Irish” is IRISH? At no point did I say this is excludes also holding a wider Irish identity – in fact it quite promotes it. A Northern Irish identity can be held together with a wider Irish identity, and/or with a wider UK identity. Identity is not mutually exclusive as you aeem to think it is.

  • Chris Donnelly

    ‘absolutely paranoid?’ Gee gosh Megs, I see we are descending to frat party debate level…

    With regard to your more interesting points from above contribution, I take it then you are in favour of equal status being afforded the Irish National flag in the disputed northern entity along side the flag of Britain. That would be the clearest indication that you are willing to embrace those holding a ‘wider’ Irish identity.

    As you’ll no doubt have noted from my earlier contributions on this thread, from that point forward, I think you’ll find many of a nationalist and unionist more willing to embrace a northern Irish identity precisely because it will not have been seen to be forced on them.


    When’s a Irishman not an Irish man?
    When’s a Ulsterman not a Ulsterman?
    Where would a man from the Province be from?
    Can you truly be British and live in Ireland?
    A true Irishman knows how many counties in Ulster.
    Judge me not my brother.

  • DC

    You know, I was just thinking there – you know what N Ireland needs? A good debate about flags.

  • ForkHandles

    It would be great to have a new flag for NI ! I think the vast majority of people would support it. If i remember correctly in one of those life and times surveys, most people identify themselves as Northern Irish. Then secondly as either British or Irish. A Northern Irish flag need not affect someones wider identity outside of NI. So i expect most people would happily identify a new Northern Irish flag as theirs.

    It really needs some politicians with the ability to organize a proper design competition / process to pick up this idea and see it through to implementation. The process would need to have an NI wide vote to show wide support for the chosen flag. There would need to be involvement from all types of communities from every corner of NI in the design and selection process. The final design would need to be seen to be something that everyone has had an input in creating, so that everyone feels it as theirs.

    You’ve probably spotted the problem….. “politicians with the ability to organize” . But if no one gives it a go then it will not happen. Its as simple as that. Come on all you up and coming politicians that wish to prove their ability in the 21st Century! Where are you??? 🙂

    As we can see in this thread, there will be people at the extremes that wish to try and kill anything that would unite people in NI. Republicans trying to change the subject by saying things such as the ROI flag should have equal status as the Union Jack etc etc. Sorry, but this isnt the Republic of Ireland! Theres no point pretending!
    I havent heard much of the anti change Unionist view yet. Probably they are still trying to unclench their teeth and stop saying a snarly ‘Grrrrr’ to any mention of changing things in NI. Sorry, its not the 1950s anymore ! Theres no point pretending !

    To proceed with this good idea, it will be necessary to ignore the extremes. Who in NI is going to step up and prove their uniting ability????

  • DC

    Can we hoist a white flag on this issue?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    DC……what kind of white flag?

  • Nunoftheabove

    A great big massive filthy minging white sheet with “nobody likes us and we don’t like each other much but do please keep sending us your tax dollars anyway so we can continue to spunk it all away on useless shite we don’t deserve”.

  • smellybigoxteronye

    I think that this thread proves that somewhere like Slugger is probably not a good place to have a reasonable discussion on such an issue. Too many politics-obsessed zealots, too many old cynical curmudgeons, and too many of the nutters on the extremes who want to take the topic off on some random direction (the initials “CD” come to mind concerning the latter!).

    The more constructive approach by the young people on Facebook seems much more reasonable.

  • andnowwhat

    A nationalist is someone who laments the paritition of Ireland and wants it to be reuinited as one, independant nation.

    A republican is one who does nopt recognise the legitinacy of partition and thus the NI state does not exist.

    Why the fek would either care about or subscribe to a NI flag????

    The flag is not the issue. 70 years of missrule, discrimination and injustcice is the point.

    But surely that is all in the past?

    Is it fuck!!! When push comes to shove, unionst politicians still run back to the OO to check on what they are doing!!!

    I was coming round to making NI work but the behaviour of unionist politicians over the P&J issue soured me big time.

    They should be telling the OO what to do. I know for a fact that Gerry Kelly et al went is to rooms at told provies what was happening. NO debate was allowed.

  • andnowwhat:

    Can you foresee a UI future in which NI (or NI+Donegal or whatever) retains a devolved administration? It is highly unlikely that NI will simply disappear.

    And don’t assume that Unionist politicians speak for everyone. There are a lot of non-voters out there who are just as disgusted with them as you are.

  • andnowwhat

    Hi Andrew.

    The reason I use the term “unionist politicians” is precisely because I know that they6 do not represent all unionists.

    In return I ask you this; how is a catholic unionsits meant to support (say on is a catholic, unionist tory supporter) a party that uns to the OO over an issue which affects us all?

    On the other Issue you raise, if NI was brought in to a UI with a population such as England’s or even London’s, I could possibly get the point. The unionist population. about 1.35 million I think, would be a massive influx in to somewhere with such a small population.

    Furthermore, I think there is a commonality of mindset between northern nationalists and unionists that would be a hell of a shakeup down there.

    I am personally sick of having to sit on my hands and hope that the English and Welsh vote the way I want them to every 4 or 5 years.

    There is NO democracy in NI so long as we can vote for who is our true goverment (the assembly is more like a gaffer handingout the wages on a Thursday afternoon, not a goverment at all).

    Get a united Ireland in place.

    Sort out down there by shaking it up.

    Move forward in a new state (it will not be a subsumed whatever the hell NI is ).

    We in the north have watched the complete bollox that passes as politics down south and so, we can help them and they can help us.

    All the financial boogy stuff about reunification is very much the sane as was said about Germany. Obviously, the republic is no Germany but, not that I am saying it ever could be a Germany,it has been missmanaged by chronyism from the very start BUT its potential, due to its education standards, is fantastic.

    The Britishness that unionism adheres to has been LONG dead in Britain itself. I would compare it to fancying Marilyn Munroe.

  • st etienne

    Minister for Division Chris Donnelly once again showing remarkable propensity for intolerance towards the nascent middle ground in NI.

    Fact is it’s only natural after a certain length of a ‘bedding down’ period post-GFA people of whatever hue who are comfortable with being Northern Irish will seek recognition as such in our representative symbolism, whether on the flag pole at Stormont or on our sports fields.

    Whether it suits the narrow mind of the Shinner activist is neither here nor there.

  • andnowwhat:

    In return I ask you this; how is a catholic unionsits meant to support (say on is a catholic, unionist tory supporter) a party that uns to the OO over an issue which affects us all?

    You’ll get no disagreement from me there.

    There is NO democracy in NI so long as we can vote for who is our true goverment (the assembly is more like a gaffer handingout the wages on a Thursday afternoon, not a goverment at all).

    Isn’t that an argument in favour of devolving financial powers to NI and getting on with normal politics?

  • Brian

    I like that “st patricks cross on a green background with the red hand of ulster inside a causeway stone” one too.

    People will argue about anything relating to NI. Any change that isn’t exactly to their liking and doesn’t involve some sort of surrender by the other side is immediately dismissed as unacceptable. Look at these people going at it on this thread!! what a waste of energy.

    We should pick a new flag. It can’t hurt anything. You might even see Catholics and Protestants both wearing it or flying it when we do

  • Brian

    (Perhaps a joint flag made up of part Tricolour and part Union Jack proportionately based on the Election results (revised every 4 years) with a similarly adjustable white strip in the middle for the funny agnostic types Alliance, Greens etc.)

    I changed my mind. I agree with this flag. That would be great

  • Republic of Connaught

    UIster has its own regional flag accepted by all in Ireland. So does Connaught, Leinster and Munster. The national flag of the Irish nation, until unification and the creation of a new flag, is the tricolour. The national flag of the British nation is the Union Jack.

    Trying to create a ‘Northern Ireland’ partitionist flag is simply trying to separate nationalists in the six counties not just from the rest of Ireland, but indeed from the rest of their Ulster cousins in Donegal, Monaghan and Cavan who would not be included in this flag.

    Nationalists should be quiet happy with their historic 9 county Ulster banner which all Irishmen regard as an Irish regional flag. A ‘Northern Ireland’ flag excluding the other three Ulster counties is simply a partitionist flag which only Unionists, Protestant or Catholic, would want.

  • Partitionism and unionism are not the same thing. It is SDLP policy that NI should continue to function as a devolved region within a UI, and given that it could only happen with unionist consent, this would appear to be the only realistic model of UI available. So no matter what your position on the constitutional question, partition of some sort is here to stay.

  • st etienne

    fortunately the issue of an NI flag isn’t going to be decided by the Republic of Anywhere Else.

  • Chris Donnelly

    But what the SDLP are proposing is not really partitionism, is it? Most Nation states devolve power to local areas, and federal countries like the USA can do so to some 50 states without challenging the authority of the National government.

    In fact, I’d imagine the vast majority of republicans would have little problem with the retention of a northern Assembly within a united Ireland.

  • Chris,

    So if you accept that Northern Ireland may well continue to exist in some form indefinitely, why can’t it have a flag? Or is it yet another matter that can’t be addressed unless we have a United Ireland first?

  • Coll Ciotach

    It is not the “cross” od Saint Patrick for a start, he never had a cross awarded to him as he was not a martyr. It is a lie to keep the natives happy. It is best described as a Fitzgeraldine cross. The sons of nest do nothing for me I am afraid. This offers nothing to nationalists but gives a comfort to “our wee Ulster” merchants. We nationalists have a flag to which we can give our allegience. The tricolour will do nicely thanks.

  • Coll,

    “sons of nest”? I don’t get it.

    The tricolour is fine if you’re only interested in the wishes of nationalists. If you have any thought for unionists, you’ll have to try a little bit harder.