What does the Irish flag mean to you?

Flag_of_Ireland.svg (1)

So, this is an experiment. I’m going to introduce a special rule for commenting on the thread below. There’ll be no sanctions for those breaking them (unless you’re really bad!!), but I will take those comments off when I get back into Slugger Central later on today.

The rule is you can only say what you honestly think/feel about the flag above. I want you to stick to its personal meaning for you, in the here and now. So, please, no commenting on anyone else’s contribution, we can open a secondary thread for that once we have a quorum to work with.

Let’s see what, if anything, happens?

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  • Barnshee

    SK

    I think the Swiss have escaped

    I must have missed something –I am pointing up the negativity arising partly because the abuse of these symbols damages the symbols ( regardless of the symbols identity)

    Jasus a lot of symbols

  • Droch_Bhuachaill

    For me, it is a symbol of the Irish Nation rather than the Irish state. But in the end it is just that; a symbol. If I thought another flag such as the Gath Gréine would be acceptable to all tribes of the Irish Nation, I would accept that also.

  • ayeYerMa

    First of all, the thread title is wrong and has a bias that weights opinion before anyone has given a response.

    It isn’t the “Irish flag”. It is the Irish Republican flag. A flag of a foreign country, the flying of which in Northern Ireland shows a complete disrespect for the agreed territories. A flag that whenever I see any “nationalist” in NI flying in NI flying I think “what a plonker, this nut thinks he’s from the Republic!”.

    I believe the definition has been slyly and retrospectively also modified to try and make it appear more inclusive rather than to reflect the colours of the vatican. After all, the flag that was flown from the GPO during the Easter Rising was in fact Green, White and crimson yellow. Nevertheless, it’s still a bit obnoxious to tell those who may associate with the colour orange (not me) that this somehow includes them, despite never asking, nor wanting to be included.

  • BrokenCarpet

    Southern, Narrowmindedness, Catholic, Republican, Seperatist, Nationalist, Exclusive.

    As someone who considers themselves Irish I take massive issue with the renaming of the sovereign country to the southwest of us. 80% just isn’t 100%. The Republic of Ireland is NOT “Ireland”. Its flag isn’t “THE Irish flag” – it’s “an” Irish flag.

    Everytime this flag is called “The Irish flag” there is the subtle presumption that those of us on the island who do not subscribe to it are in some way “less Irish” or even simply “non-Irish”. I resent and reject that.

  • Otto

    Someone’s flagged my last comment as offensive. Happy to have it deleted/amended. Sorry for the poor use of language. Iain has described himself as “officially very poorly” not the word I said. That might just be what he thinks.

  • Mick Fealty

    It’s just off topic. See the post above.

  • Otto

    That’s ok Mick. Glad you took it off tbh.

    I see from Paul Krugman’s “conscience of a liberal” blog that he thought the news was the biggest event of his day.

    Given that Iain Banks has come out for an independent Scotland because he thinks that’s the best way to build the sort of society he wants to see even though some days he thinks himself more British and others more European I think there’s a relevant point somewhere – it’s the same thinking we’re getting from otherwise “unionist” northern liberals.

    Anyway – I’ve gone on about a wider meaning for the Orange bit elsewhere – so I’ll just say the Irish flag is either a great idea, poorly explained and partially implemented or a piece of patronising stereotyping. I think the first. And I’m starting to appreciate the European connection more.

  • George

    BrokenCarpet,
    As someone who considers themselves Irish I take massive issue with the renaming of the sovereign country to the southwest of us. 80% just isn’t 100%. The Republic of Ireland is NOT “Ireland”. Its flag isn’t “THE Irish flag” – it’s “an” Irish flag.

    You consider yourself Irish but don’t want to be part of the state that approximately 80% + of the population of the rest of the island of Ireland want.

    You believe that it is possible to be Irish while still considering the majority of Ireland’s population to be foreigners to you and reject their symbols and traditions.

    It seems to me that what you are actually saying is that there cannot be an Irish nation that excludes the traditions and symbols that you espouse and anyone that believes there can is narrow-minded and exclusive.

    I assume you are happy to be part of the British nation and feel that your Irishness, which is different to the majority on this island, is best protected within the United Kingdom.

    If that’s the case, then you consider yourself Irish but don’t trust the Irish to protect your Irishness.

    That’s certainly “Irish”, I’ll give you that.

  • Politico68

    When i look at the flag i am reminded that I am an Irishman and proud of the high esteem in which my country is held throughout the world. When I see the flag being flown at a rock concert in London, a paddies day parade in Tokyo, a sporting event in Sydney a religious ceremony in Rome; I smile. I am reminded that for most of the world, irishness is associated with warmth, fun, Love, Celebration, History and fair play. The flag for me can be compared to a bright light or a beautiful sunrise, a beacon of civilisation because regardless of what might be said about my flag or my people, the world knows we are Irish, and loves us just for that reason.

  • BrokenCarpet

    George,

    Where are you getting your “80%+”?

    The island’s population is 6,399,115, and there are 4,588,252 people in the ROI. Should we add on the percentage of people up here who answered in NILTS “What do you think the long-term policy for NI should be?” with “United Ireland” in 2008 (ie. 18%), or in 2010 (ie. 16%)? Or should we favour including the BBC’s survey in 2013 which stated that 17% of us sought a UI?

    Or, instead, should Irish Nationalists add on the 28.35% of us who actually answered “Irish” to the question posed to us in 2011 Census “How would you describe your nationality?”?

    Or should we ignore those who also ticked “British”: so 26.3%? Or, on top of that, should we ignore those who also self-declared themselves as having a Northern Irish nationality (Ed: “those partitionists!”): so 25.26%?

    Should we just wack on the 40.76% who make up Northern Ireland’s Catholic population? Or the 45.14%, including those who said they were raised in the faith? (I recall “Lazy sectarian stereotyping” being Arlene Forster’s turn of phrase.)

    Should we add on the combined SDLP/SF vote from 2011 for the Assembly: 41.1%? Or for the 26 Councils: 39.8%? Or the 42% for Westminster in 2010? Or the 41.9% for the European election in 2009? After all, both parties have as one of their main objectives the unification of our island home. Yet, by doing so we disregard everyone who didn’t vote, we ignore tactical voting, performance-based voting and ALL other election-time issues. And we assume that everyone who votes for the SDLP is in favour of removing Northern Ireland from the UK, despite evidence that “Sinn Fein attract votes from Catholics who want a United Ireland and from Catholics who perceive themselves to be Irish. SDLP attract votes from Catholics who quite like the status quo devolved power sharing Assembly and who see themselves as Northern Irish rather than Irish.” (QUB’s Dr John Garry)

    Respectfully those percentages from NI give an all-Ireland figure of 76.795%, 76.229%, 76.512%, 79.724%, 79.144%, 78.850%, 84.475%, 83.236%, 83.332%, 82.964%, 83.587%, 83.558%. Which of these do you believe most accurately represents the “population of the rest of the island of Ireland that wants to be part of” an independent unified republic? At any rate, my “80%” was in referance to landmass; neither that nor any of the above are equal to 100%.

    I don’t have to agree with anyone whatsoever to call myself Irish. My Irishness is not dependent on my political beliefs. It is not granted by the generosity of the Southern Irish Government.

    Upon rereading my previous post you’ll find I didn’t actually say that I regard Southerners as foreigners – for further clarity: I don’t.

    “Their symbols and traditions.” Well it depends on which symbols and which traditions, doesn’t it? And, to whom do they pertain? Speaking the Irish language, watching Gaelic Games, playing the Harp and listening to traditional music are not uniquely Southern Irish attributes. They can be done and are done in this part of the UK too. And plenty of people in both Irelands have never done any of the above and that doesn’t make them non-Irish.

    However, the official flag, currency, President, Government, car number plates, national broadcaster etc. of the Republic of Ireland do pertain to one part of the island. But again, those of us that, for the most part, feel unaffiliated with the above are no less Irish than those who are.

    “It seems to me that what you are actually saying is that there cannot be an Irish nation that excludes the traditions and symbols that you espouse and anyone that believes there can is narrow-minded and exclusive.”

    First up: I don’t espouse “them” – and I don’t know what “traditions and symbols” you’re referring to.

    But generally … hmmm I would argue that there cannot be one single “Irish nation that excludes the traditions and symbols” of Northern Irish/British people. I cannot envisage such a proposition gaining majority support here. In a similar vein, there cannot ever again be an Orange state here; the ‘Protestant Parliament for a Protestant people’ died in 1972 and thankfully forgot to purchase its return ticket.

    “I assume you are happy to be part of the British nation and feel that your Irishness, which is different to the majority on this island, is best protected within the United Kingdom. “

    Not necessarily, no. I’m happy to consider myself Irish. Irishness is not threatened within the UK – there have been Irish people living in the UK for 212 years to date. I’m also happy to consider myself to have a British/UK identity. But, conversely, I do believe that this would be under threat were Northern Ireland to leave the UK. Why? Because of the decline of the common British identity in the new Freestate and subsequent Republic. However, by far the best reason to remain in the UK is because it is to the economic benefit of the majority of people in Northern Ireland to stay in the UK in the short-medium term (and maybe even in the long-term) rather than leaving the UK and joining Southern Ireland.

    “[you] don’t trust the Irish to protect your Irishness.”

    Can I presume that by “Irish” you mean people living in the Republic? Which is so awfully partitionist of you! As said before: I don’t need southerners to “protect” my Irishness. I am Irish whether they’re Irish or not. I’m Irish whether they regard me thus or not. It’s an identity that I have in common with them, but it is not dependent on them, and most certainly does not need protection from them.

    We’re no less European than Southern Irish people simply because we don’t use the Euro. Similarly we’re no more European than the Swiss who aren’t in the EU. The Swedish aren’t more Scandinavian than the Norwegians. Spaniards aren’t more Iberian than the Portuguese. Catalonians aren’t less Spanish than the Galicians. etc. etc. They’re all vaguely based around similar versions of the practically the same argument.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Hear Hear Broken Carpet,! best comment I’ve seem on slugger in months !

  • weidm7

    BrokenCarpet, DC

    Do you think there could ever come a time when you would trust the southern state to protect the British identity of those living on the island, and were you would vote to join the rest of the Irish people on the island in a single state?

    If yes, can you think of anything specific, were it to happen, which would make you feel that those of a British identity would be protected within the southern state? i.e. is there anything the southern state could do to reassure your fears?

    I’d also like to point out that there are people of a British identity in the southern state also, apart from the Orange Order march in Donegal every year, there are OO branches in Dublin, Cork and other towns as well as those who don’t see that big a difference between the two islands. RTÉ did a documentary on an OO lodge in Dublin before, you’d find it handy enough through Google, if you’re interested.

  • BrokenCarpet

    The Orange Order (OO) is a part of religious culture/cultural religiosity specific to certain Protestant Unionists in some parts of Ireland. But to reduce British culture to the OO betrays a complete ignorance to what Britishness is. (NB I know that’s not what you did, but it’s aimed at anyone who would confuse the two.) But it’s more than acknowledging the fact that there isn’t “that big a difference between the two islands”. I mean, anyone could say that there isn’t “that big a difference” betweem any two places – that’s not the issue.

    The amount of times I have been corrected (yes, corrected) in polite conversation in the Republic for use of the term ‘British Isles’ is remarkable – despite the fact that often the ‘British Isles’ is the apt phrase, and I think it far more stylish in speech and in writing than the rather clumsy ‘UK and Ireland’ jargon, or the even worse ‘Britain and Ireland’ (Ed- “What about the Manx, the Shetlanders and the good people of Rathlin?”). They don’t like ‘British Isles’. They edit it out. They delete it. They erase it from their reality.

    (Needless to say I don’t forbid others to say “UK & Ireland”/”Britain & Ireland” – they can sing it in the shower whilst the cows rebuild their shed flattened by the recent snow for all I care. I don’t correct them for saying it their way, but I don’t expect to be corrected for saying it mine.)

    Interestingly I have never had the same reaction from northern Irish Nationalists – they accept it as a geographic fact as would anyone else.

    Joe Bloggs from Baile Caraidh (Co. Antrim) is no less Irish that Joe Bloggs from Baile an Fheirtéaraigh (Co. Kerry). But, nor is it the case that either of the those two are any less British than anyone from elsewhere in the British Isles; A.N.Onomous of Pwllheli (Gwynedd), A. McPer of Steòrnabhagh (Ross & Cromarty), A.Person from Purt ny h-Inshey (Isle of Man), S.O.Mebody of Brighton (E. Sussex) H.U.Man of Sutton-under-Whitestonecliffe (N. Yorkshire), S.O.Meone of Tre an Gwaynten (Cornwall), H.U.Zat from La Ville-ès-Renauds (Jersey), and U.R.Man of Frjóey (Ȝetland).

    The British Isles has always been multicultural, religiously diverse, and multilinguistic.

    Acceptance that Belfast is in Ireland and that we have an Irish identity is not the same as becoming an Irish nationalist. And acknowledging that this island forms part of the British Isles and that we are therefore British is not tantamount to becoming a British unionist. Accepting that that archipelago is part of the European continental shelf does not demand of us that we agree that being linked to the rest of the EU politically or fiscally is a good/bad thing.

    If you believe that people who say “I’m not Irish, I’m Northern Irish” or “I’m not Irish, I’m British” are mistaken, then for the same reason those who say “I’m not British, I’m Irish” are equally erroneous. Vis-à-vis “I’m not British, I’m Scottish”, “I’m not French, I’m Breton”, “I’m not Belgian, I’m Flemish” or my own personal favourite “I’m not speaking Catalan, it’s Velencian” (third cousin twice removed from “I’m not speaking Scots, it’s Ulster-Scots” and “I don’t speak Irish, I speak Ulster Irish”). They are not mutually exclusive. Stating the contrary is not proof of the contrary.

    The UK is a country of countries. It is not a nation state but rather a state of nations.

    But Irish Nationalism rejects the common British identity that we all share. As does the Southern Irish state. Irish Nationalism shows disdain for British nationality anywhere on the island, and it disregards Northern Irish nationality full stop. British Unionism is multi-layered in nature – it can adapt to include new concepts of identity. British Unionism can include Irish and Northern Irish and Scottish and English and Welsh and Cornish and Manx and Norse and Norman French as well as British as identities within the UK. Irish Nationalism, by definition, cannot. In the Republic of Ireland, a nation state: you’re Irish, end of.

    I’m not one of the 40% of people here who declared their sole Nationality as British. Nor am I one of the 21% who self-described their nationality as Northern Irish only. But I can completely empathise that those people would see little to be gained (insofar as their identity is concerned) from what has been on offer from Irish Nationalism over the past century or so. (Ignoring all the economic arguments for a second here.)

    So, could there ever come a time when I would trust the Southern Irish state to protect the Northern Irish or British identity of those living on the island? Yes. Through history can we see that the Republic has tried to embrace either of the above Nationalities? No, quite the opposite. Has the Republic’s government started to go down that road? No. Is there anything that suggests that it will in the near future? No. Could this change? Many things are possible, however, some are not plausible.

    Do I think there could ever come a time when I would vote to join the rest of the Irish people on the island in a single state? If economic circumstances were different, yes. But the whole identity issue would need to be dealt with in the Republic as well. In all honestly, however, I don’t see either of those two triangles being squared any time in the short-medium term future.

  • FDM

    @BrokenCarpet

    Is it not a bit conceited of you to be telling people what they are and what they are not?

    Is it not much better to take their word for it? They are the ones who have to look in the mirror and be comfortable in their bones with their identity.

    I think you are terribly confused between the idea of a nation and geographical terminology.

    If Ireland were destroyed by some disaster, God between us and evil, there would still be an Irish nation and people.

    All of which rankles with your idea that we are somehow all British because the archipelago has historically been named as the British Isles. By whom I wonder? The term is actually a bastardised term which has suffered from both time and translation, never mind people using it for their own ends.

    The term “Anglo-Celtic Isles” has also been used and arguably has a better ring to it as well as being more accurate.

    I think your comments smack of the very familiar British insistence that we are what they tell us we should be.

    Not any more.

    If short if someone tells me they are British I have to accept that. If they tell me they are Irish, similarly I don’t have the choice to ignore that. I accept it.

    Dictating to people about what they should consider themselves to be because someone has a map dating back to the middle of the 16th century really isn’t a firm premise to move forward.

  • sonofstrongbow

    Nice u-turn FDM.

    So all those unionists you insisted on labelling “Protestant nationalists” (how “conceited” of you) are ok to continue as unionists as it’s “better to take their word for it”?

    PS the “Anglo-Celtic Isles” is far from accurate. The Angles were a Germanic people who invaded Britain in the 5th century. I just mention it as I know Irish nationalists only count folks as really belonging if they first showed up riding dinosaurs.

  • FDM

    @sonofthecider

    We were discussing nationality, not politics.

    One can be protestant and Irish, like one of our national heroes Brian O’Driscoll. One can be pro-republic and republican and a protestant.

    The shame for “unionists” is that they can’t seem to separate their religion, politics and identity.

    You actually prove my point by not seeing the difference in another of your long line of bitter posts.

    Have you been drinking cider from lemons for too long?

  • BrokenCarpet

    FDM,

    “Is it not a bit conceited of you to be telling people what they are and what they are not?”
    Sir, it is not conceited to call a spade a spade.

    If someone is from Oslo they are clearly Norwegian. Agreed? Why? Because they’re from Norway. It doesn’t matter if they view themselves as Romanian or not. I could easily want to be regarded as Greek. But I am not Greek, because I am from Greece.

    A man from Paris is French, but not Breton. A woman from Zurich is Swiss but not German. This follows an almost universal pattern of thought – most certainly in the Western World.

    Someone from Ballymena is from Northern Ireland and is therefore Northern Irish. But Ballymena is also in Ireland, and therefore that person has an Irish identity. (Not necessarily an Irish Nationalist identity though or even an Irish Nationality.) There are certain features of that person’s identity that place them as having a lot in common with other people from Ireland, and that is tantamount to an identity. It would not be egotistical to refer to that person as Irish, by virtue of the fact that that person is from Ireland.

    Now, we all know that Ballymena is in the British Isles, and that, therefore, there are certain aspects of their life that the person from Ballymena shares with everyone else in the British Isles. It can therefore be said that that person is British. (Not a British Citizen or a British Unionist.) Assertion of this truth is no more a show of arrogance than saying “evolution by means of natural selection happened”. (Well, in fact, it’s arguably less arrogant; someone living must have born witness to the Ballymena person’s birth in Ballymena, whereas no human alive or dead has witnessed evolution since the very beginning.)

    “Is it not much better to take their word for it?” I suppose it depends whether or not you consider identity to be empirical or subjective or somewhere in-between. If someone from Belcoo were to decide on a whim that they weren’t British or Irish or Northern Irish. If they woke up one morning, after being born and raised in Fermanagh and paying taxes for years, and declared themselves to be Bangladeshi – does such a statement warrant respect? Should this decision be taken seriously by anyone else other than that person? I daresay no.

    All I have simply said is basically the above argument in reverse. If one cannot maintain a degree of intellectual integrity in choosing a random identity upon the drop of a hat, then I say to you that the reverse is also true – that one cannot logically deny one’s Ulster identity if they are from Ulster, one cannot logically deny one’s Irish identity if they are from Ireland, one cannot logically deny one’s UK identity if they are from the UK, one cannot logically deny one’s Northern Irish identity if they are from Northern Ireland, one cannot logically deny one’s British identity if they are from the British Isles and that one cannot logically deny one’s European identity if they are from Europe.

    Nationality is distinct from identity is distinct from citizenship. People from the Republic of Ireland are simply not legally British Citizens or British Nationals. (Could they consider themselves to have a British Nationality? Yes, if they had UK citizenship, but not in the way that UK nationality (ie. a British national identity, as opposed to a sense of British identity or British Citizenship) is understood here in the UK.) They are not from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. They are from “Éire, or in the English language Ireland” ie. the ROI. I wouldn’t dream of suggesting that Southern Irish people are British Citizens. But, rather, all I argue is that it is accurate to regard them as geographically British because they are geographically from the British Isles. However, as we know, the acceptance of even this geographical statement is limited in the Republic.

    We all have met people in our lives who have said something along the lines of “I’m not X, I’m Y” even though they are indeed both, but they would prefer to emphasise their sense of Y-ness. There are people who are Irish (because they are from this island) but who do not regard themselves as Irish. That is a case of rejecting part of one’s own identity. It is not like the close friend of the person from Belcoo who says “But you’re not Bangladeshi”. The same argument can be applied with equal measure to anyone from the British Isles who claims to be non-British. It’s simply nonsense.

    If Bertie Ahern were to state in public in 2013 “I am the Taoiseach” – would it be conceited of a reporter to inform him that he is not? If Michael D. were to assert “I am not the President of Ireland” would it be haut, inconsiderate, vulgar, too assumingly audacious of Sabina to remind him of reality?

    “If Ireland were destroyed by some disaster, God between us and evil, there would still be an Irish nation and people.”
    For a long while yes. But 1000 years down the line both would be obsolete. They would have long moved on, to fields afar, intermingled and intermarried. Eventually “Ireland” would be just like what is now the English Channel. The “Irish Nation” (however one defines it) would probably live on for quite a while aided by millions of hours of recordings of BBC N Ireland and RTÉ etc.

    “All of which rankles with your idea that we are somehow all British because the archipelago has historically been named as the British Isles.”
    I hate to be the one to point out that we’re only Irish because this island has been historically called Ireland. Or how else do you explain our Irishness? In the same way that Hispaniola contains Haiti and the Dominican Republic. One island does not equal one nation. Great Britain and Borneo are other fine examples.

    “By whom I wonder?” A juvenile check of Wikipedia tells all. Was it the Reverend Green in Connacht with the Tithes? No, it was the Greeks in the 6th century BC with a boat.

    “[The British Isles is] a bastardised term which has suffered from both time and translation” like language at large? How does this differ from the etymological reasons for Éire, Alba, Cymru, England, France, Holland – they’re all bastardised. The Rhine, the Danube, the Severn, the Bann, the list goes on …

    The term British Isles exists in numerous other languages – not just the enemy Saxon imperial tongue!

    “The term “Anglo-Celtic Isles” has also been used and arguably has a better ring to it as well as being more accurate.”

    Right then, so we’re including the Celts and the Angles. Marvelous! But what about the Romans, the Norse, the Huguenots, the Normans, the Saxons, the Danes, the Tuath De Danan (Was it the Formorians or the Fir Bolg who were considered Celts?), the Africans brought here by the Slave Trade, the Africans not brought here by the slave trade, the South Asians and the Caribbean peoples who have arrived within the past two and a half centuries? “Anglo-Celtic Isles” just simply doesn’t cut it. It raises more problems than it solves. British Isles is in common usage around the world by geographers and meteorologists and has historic precedence.

    If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. I’ve heard “British Isles” used on RTÉ weather forecasts and have seen it in print in newspapers and university publications from the Republic of Ireland.

    “I think your comments smack of the very familiar British insistence that we are what they tell us we should be.”
    But common sense is not a simply British attribute … 😉

    “In short if someone tells me they are British I have to accept that. If they tell me they are Irish, similarly I don’t have the choice to ignore that. I accept it.”

    I commend you. If someone originally from Galway were to say “I’m not Irish, I’m French” would you agree? If you met someone from Oxford who said “I’m not British, I’m European” would you agree with them on the former? (What you would think and what you would say to their face are two separate issues.)