“The flying of a Tricolour inside church walls is not something I approve of…”

Whilst Willie Frazer recently (somewhat erroneously) raised the matter of National flags in schools, it would appear that unionist politicians are at loggerheads in Moneymore over the appearance of an Irish Tricolour as part of a floral arrangement in a protestant church in the town.

DUP MLA Ian McCrea has attacked his local UUP rival, Sandra Overend, due to her role in sponsoring the ‘grossly offensive’ floral arrangement. For her part, Overend has denied foreknowledge of the Tricolour’s inclusion in the floral display, which also included a Union Flag and flowers of a red, white and blue hue alongside those of  green, white and orange colours. 

Overend then went on to make the following comments:

The flying of a Tricolour inside church walls is not something I approve of and I was very surprised on Sunday when I attended the church and saw the arrangement.

Like the hullabaloo surrounding Willie Frazer’s remarks, this particular incident is most interesting if we take a step back and think of how the issue of flags and emblems in churches reinforces and, arguably, entrenches political divisions.

I’m interested in knowing if there are members of congregations out there where National Flags are flown inside church walls who would prefer if the practice was ended or, alternatively, who would like to see the development of a more accommodating culture to that articulated by Overend and McCrea which would take cognisance of the disputed national allegiances within the contested space that is Northern Ireland. 

Of course, those fully behind the stance articulated by the two Unionist MLAs are more than welcome to state their views as well.


  • Mister Joe

    Knickers in a twist comes to mind. Since when did the tricolour become a religious symbol. I can understand objecting to the papal flag were it to be displayed.

  • RyanAdams

    What is Ian McCrea doing in a church of ‘liberal back-sliders’ anyway?

  • JR

    One thing I totally disagree with is national flags in churches. Irish, British, french, whatever.
    At any republican funerals hield in our church the sacristan insisted the Tricolor be removed at the church gate. Proper order I say.

  • cynic2

    This just shows just how low the bar for entry at Stormont really is and just what many of our MLAs are really fit for

  • lover not a fighter

    Its only in NI that people are so sure about the nationality of God and whether he/she is protestant/catholic.

    Other places hedge(wisely) their bets a bit more.

    Imagine turning up with the wrong flag !

    I mean; What would God do if he/she turned up with the wrong flag ? ? ?

  • andnowwhat

    Do these guys freak out if the get peas, spuds and turnip on the same plate?


    Perhaps it would have been helpful if Sandra Overend had articulated clearly why the flying (was it actually flying?) of a Tricolour inside church walls is not something which she approves of. For me it wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference which flag or flags were flying inside church walls. If someone arrived in church draped in, say, an Australian flag I might think, ‘how odd’ but it wouldn’t linger long in the mind.

    I happened to be in Cushendall yesterday and witnessed the Olympic Torch procession passing though the village during which a young man staged what I assume he meant to be a protest by holding up a Tricolour with the words ‘This Is Not London’ on it. Apart from the fact that no one seemed to have a notion what he was supposed to be protesting about, not only had he defaced the flag and was holding it facing away from the TV cameras, he was also holding it upside down and back to front so no one passing through on the parade could possibly read what it said. Why is it that when I see or hear of people using flags to make a political point, I immediately think of the word ‘fool’?

  • Mister Joe

    If an idiot gets elected, is that a reflection on the idiot or the people who elected him/her?

  • Mac

    Mid Ulster and Kerry, more alike than anyone would have you believe.

  • lover not a fighter

    I might be out on a limb here but as I understand it protestant churchs are much more likely to display The Union flag either inside or out than catholic churchs to display the Tri-colour. Mind you Rome might not be too happy if the catholic churchs got any ideas that they should’nt.

    I wouldnt be in churchs of any denomination very often mind.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Why is it that when I see or hear of people using flags to make a political point, I immediately think of the word ‘fool’?

    That’s pretty much the case in many parts of the country. Years ago it used to be commonplace to see distress flags in the form of upside-down Union flags flying in Sandy Row.

    They excelled themselves in one particular year by flying the Royal Standard, indicating of course that HM the Queen was resident in a lamppost outside the Supreme fish and chip shop.

  • Mister Joe

    he was also holding it upside down

    Just curious; for a flag with horizontal panels, how can you tell which way is up?


    Mister Joe – by the words …. the words ‘This is Not London’ were displayed upside down and back to front….. not the best approach to getting one’s message across.

  • galloglaigh

    And the DUP want to attract Catholic voters! These people are stuck in 1690. It reminds me of another Slugger thread last July.

    A DUP councillor on Derry City Council, Gary Middleton, was on Radio Foyle recently talking about Euro 2012 flags supporting the Irish team. He sent a picture into one of the presenters, showing these flags on a market stall. This is a statement he released before coming on to the presenter’s show to talk about it:

    On 26th May, it was brought to my attention that two Irish tricolours were being flown in the guildhall square area. I had raised my concerns about this, specifically in relation to the tent from which the flags were being flown from. This tent was a walled city market tent, supplied by council, with the council logo on it… I am now calling for a sensible policy of no flags to promote tourism and visitors to guildhall square. The guildhall square is supposed to be a shared space and an area which has changed and reinvented itself over the past number of years. A flags policy for this shared space will go towards enabling people from all communities to feel safe and welcome in the city. Those in guildhall square who are flying the flags are sending a message out to unionists that ‘we don’t want your custom’. With the upcoming UK City of Culture year, the time is right to implement a policy which will encourage participation in events which are held in the city centre without communities feeling unwelcome and visitors being put off.

    You can hear his interview here (from 39:50).

    Middleton’s argument is that Guildhall Square is a shared space. Fair enough you’d say. But if you listen to the callers (43:30), when challenged on similar issues from Middleton’s community (45:30), he denies any comparison. One caller (50:10) asked about the flying of the Union Flag in the Diamond in August’s Apprentice Boy’s parade, and asked whether or not Middleton would accept that this is also a shared space. He suddenly showed his true colours: that loyalists in Derry are the only people who should be offended by flags.

    It’s clear that the DUP still has its bigots. It’s time for change; it’s the 21st Century!

  • sonofstrongbow

    I wonder how much ‘dispute’ there is within Moneymore C of I about “national allegiances” in the “contested space” (the new ‘statelet’ quip I suppose) of Northern Ireland? I would not expect too many Shinners to be hiding under the pews.

    On this the Jubilee long weekend it is interesting how the drones have upped their work rate. I expect Deep Thought at Connolly House is monitoring the media to ensure none of the Downtrodden are having a sly day off. An appointment with a hurl for backsliding would be most unfortunate.


    From the ‘My Vision’ section of Sandra Overend’s website:

    “As a Unionist in Northern Ireland I believe that the future of Northern Ireland exists where we can live peacefully with our neighbours, be proud of who we are, and celebrate our cultures without threat.”

  • galloglaigh


    That reminds me of this idiot:

    NO TO FOREIGN GAMES; while wearing a soccer tracksuit and jersey. Irony isn’t this fool’s strong point!

  • Drumlins Rock

    Chris, good to see your focusing on the major issues of the day, I guess this puts on a par with Ian McCrea who seemed to think it was a issue to start with, really it is a minor issue between Sandra and the Church involved.

    I for one would not want my name associated with a display full of political statement I could not subscribe too, and it seems rather insensative of the church to do so in this case. I would imagine there will be heated discussions behind vestry doors.

    However for the DUPs missing link candidate to make a big issue of it is typical of the standard of his usual contribution to political debate in this country, which brings me back to where I started….

  • Brian

    “They excelled themselves in one particular year by flying the Royal Standard, indicating of course that HM the Queen was resident in a lamppost outside the Supreme fish and chip shop.”

    Hilarious. Ah, the lumpenproletariat…gotta love ’em.


    galloglaigh – Your Croke Park idiot makes my Cushendall idiot appear almost like an intelligent young chap.

  • Dec

    ‘Just curious; for a flag with horizontal panels, how can you tell which way is up?’

    The left panel should be green, upside down it becomes the Ivory Coast flag.


    We get it. We should be glossing over instances when Unionists make arses of themselves.

  • Mister Joe

    …upside down it becomes the Ivory Coast flag..

    Not so; that would only happen if you moved the ties to the orange side and flew it back to front.

  • lamhdearg2

    I think the (state) union flag , inside a (state) church, is sound, just the same as a vatican flag inside a R,C. church would be sound, a millitary flag inside the church, i have problems with, but as i am never in them myself, my view should count for nothing.

  • lamhdearg2

    “They excelled themselves in one particular year by flying the Royal Standard, indicating of course that HM the Queen was resident in a lamppost outside the Supreme fish and chip shop.”
    Resident in our hearts.

  • sonofstrongbow

    Wow! It beggars belief how much difficulty the usual suspects seem to be having with how to fly the Irish Tricolour. It’s a tricolour for feck’s sake, how much of a challenge can it be?

    Btw, particularly enjoyed the ‘flying it upside down’ contribution. I thought Ireland went with the tricolour option because it was so simple.

    At least with the Union Flag you could forgive some lamppost climber for getting it wrong on occasion. Compared to the Irish Tricolour the Union Flag is the Rubik’s Cube of cloth.

  • Drumlins Rock

    “Not so; that would only happen if you moved the ties to the orange side and flew it back to front.”

    …. or if you put writing on it, as happened in this case.

  • sdelaneys

    lamhdearg 2
    “Resident in our hearts.” and, doubtless, some others would wish it were the hearth.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Hey Chris, (oops forgot Chris is too high and mighty to reply to comments these days but will try anyway)

    Is is acceptable for the GAA to give out medals to wee children with a terrorists picture on them? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-18322046

  • sonofstrongbow

    Indeed DR. On the day when the ‘open and welcoming to all’ GAA is handing out tacky terrorist memorabilia and other Irish Republicans are bombing police officers, oh and now it seems blocking the Olympic Torch in Londonderry, the ‘big’ story is the foolish point scoring attempt by a DUP backbencher against his UUP rival.

  • lamhdearg2

    The 2012 Committee of Galbally GAC is as follows:

    Honorary President – Pat Tally
    Honorary Vice Presidents – Patrick McGeary
    Chairman – Plunkett Quinn
    Vice Chairman – Denver Corrigan
    Secretary – Declan Quinn
    Assistant Secretary –
    Treasurer – Shane McCrory
    Assistant Treasurer / Membership Officer – Pauric Rafferty
    P.R.O. – Carmel McNamee
    Assistant P.R.O – Paddy Holland
    Youth Officer – Joe Donnelly

    Committee Members – Kieran Brannigan, Sean Carberry, Kevin Corrigan, Denis Donaghy, Noel Donaghy, Desmond Donnelly, Paul Kerr, Paul McAleer, Michael McVeigh, Seamus McVeigh, Larry Murphy, Kieran O’Neill and Damian Quinn.

    BBCs spotlight program to do a special, and ask these folk if and why this happened?, just as one would hope would happen if it where an I,F,A football club giving out medals with Billy Wrights picture on them.

  • toker

    This is old 1980s style unionism at its worst.Totally ridiculous.

    Is Sandra overend saying that God loves the union Jack more than the tricolour, is she aware that Church of Ireland churches such as St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin have the tricolour inside along with Republican flags from 1798, will she condemn them as well.

    This shows as much disrespect to nationalism as the Sinn Fein Belfast Lord Mayor’s actions showed to the Unionists.

    Surely Mike Nesbitts’s future UUP can approach these issues in a more progressive fashion and UUP politicians should not be trying to out do intellectual heavyweights like Ian mc Crea.

    Chris is right to raise this issue.

  • Tomas Gorman


    I stuck my head through the door of St Anne’s cathedral on Donegall Street one day. They had some union flags and some RAF standards hanging from the side walls. May have been a part of a military remembrance or a permanent thing….I don’t know.

  • weidm7

    I personally thought it was a lovely display, it showed recognition of both traditions in a space which is usually associated with only one, I consider it a fantastic way to reach across to ‘the other side’ and welcome more of the same. It is up to our community leaders (the politicians aren’t going to do it) to stretch out the hand of friendship to the other side, especially religious leaders as they are more likely to do so.

    toker, if the UUP tried to become more progressive, they’d lose substantial amounts of votes. And this is not unique to unionism.

  • cynic2

    Ah ….. The smell of a sectarian wingefest ……it must be almost
    July again

  • cynic2

    Has Christ stopped responding to posts since his rantings were exposed?

    Perhaps he just realised that when you lose the argument it’s time to stop

  • sonofstrongbow

    I expect he’s away from the keyboard a lot of the time. It is flag-counting season after all and given the number of lampposts he must have to shinner up it’s almost a full time job.

  • Drumlins Rock

    I Chris has found another one to post on! Busy boy, shame he can’t stoop to speak to us anymore.

  • lamhdearg2

    Lets not gang up on anyone, bullying is so not the British thing to do.

  • SK

    To the four petty, man-playing, deeply unpleasant Super Prods above:

    Get a life lads.

  • sonofstrongbow


  • Lamh,

    I think the (state) union flag , inside a (state) church, is sound, just the same as a vatican flag inside a R,C. church would be sound, a millitary flag inside the church, i have problems with, but as i am never in them myself, my view should count for nothing.

    Well, we have no state church in either part of Ireland. Personally, I’ve don’t think I’ve ever come across a tricolour in a Catholic church, but since I haven’t been in that many of them I can’t speak with much authority. I do know there are plenty of CofI churches with (Union) military flags donated by Irish regiments over the years. Not sure how common that practise is these days – it’s not something I approve of, on the grounds of separation of church and state, but I don’t see why any existing museum pieces in churches should be actively removed. Sometimes history should be left to speak for itself. I say all this as a godless heathen, of course. 😉

    Flags in a floral display strikes me as more tasteless than offensive, though.

  • lamhdearg2

    “One religious denomination in the United Kingdom is formally recognised and given a privileged status by the state. It is the “established” church of the nation. That church is the Church of England or Anglican Church,”

    Now I am no theologian, so excuse me if i am wrong in extending that to the CofI.

  • Lamh,

    Have you a source for that quote? It is woefully inaccurate.

    One religious denomination is formally recognised, but it is the established church of England, not of the other three jurisdictions. The Church of Ireland was separated from the Church of England and disestablished in the 19th century, and the Church in Wales similarly in the 20th. The Church of Scotland is not even an Anglican church.

    It’s not a theological issue, it’s a legal one.

  • lamhdearg2

    Something called the “the centre for citizenship”
    I knew about the CofS, i did not know there was a CofW, and i thought the CofI link, made it so.
    I stand corrected.

  • Intelligence Insider

    “To the four petty, man-playing, deeply unpleasant Super Prods above:

    Get a life lads.”

    Probably the most sectarian comment I’ve read on Slugger as yet.

  • magherafelt red

    As someone who attended the flower festival I was not surprised to see the tricolour flying on a piece sponsored by Mrs Overend as she is seen as in the very liberal wing of the UUP. She can even makes Basil McCrea look like a bigot. If Mrs Overend was unhappy about the flags then why did she not get them removed when she was made aware of the “problem”.

  • williewombat

    Not enough context in this debate what was this Floral display to represent friendly neighbours, common interests, historic rivalry what? Too easy just to get into the lowest common denominator debate doubt if overend or mccrea reflect the real views of people most of the time poor choices for electorate are often a problem for unionists in areas where they are a minority. Churches are not the buildings but the people and thereby should reflect the ethos of its membership nothing wrong though with a bit of outreach if you are inviting the public along

  • quality

    magherafelt red

    Are you suggesting liberalism and tolerance are negative qualities?

  • williewombat


    Liberalism and tolerance are fantastic ideals however on occassions those who profess those qualities don`t really display them towards those who don`t agree with them or who take a different point of view quite ironic really also unfortunately some interpret tolerance as agreement or acceptance which is a completely incorrect view

  • Skinner

    “the stance articulated by the two Unionist MLAs”

    Except they haven’t articulated their stance at all. One said she doesn’t approve and the other said it was grossly offensive. They don’t appear (at least not from the blog above) to have articulated any good reason for this stance. It lacks all sense of reasoning. Why should unionists not want to celebrate harmony between the RoI and the UK? They should thank God for it, and flowers are a particulalry inoffensive way of doing it.