Flying the Union Flag above Stormont (in 1975) #20yearrule

Question: How many politicians needed to ring up the Permanent Secretary to get the Union Flag raised over Stormont in 1975?

An undated note is released today in the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland under the 20 Year Rule in file ANI/10/104 which describes unionist demands for the Union Flag to be flown above Parliament Buildings during sittings of the Convention. It’s not clear who wrote the ‘note for the record’ but it was likely to the then Head of the Civil Service.

While the front of the file is annotated ‘1972’ the Northern Ireland Constitutional Convention was only in operation between May 1975 and March 1976.

Answer: 2

Having sought urgent advice from London, the flag was flown when the Convention sat.

Bonus answer: It must help if “a few minutes after these arrangements had been set in motion, Dr Paisley telephoned demanding to speak to the Seretary of State about the insult paid to the ‘Loyalists’ of Ulster by the Secretary of State in not allowing the flying of the Union Jack”.

“I informed Dr Paisley that the flags would be flying during the sitting. he thanked me.”

It’s an example of a ‘note for the record’ of a decision made without an existing paper trail that was deemed important enough to be documented for perpetuity.

Another similarly numbered file was checked out by all four of us sitting in PRONI looking at the public records due to be released. With a tantalising name “Northern Ireland Flag” we all expected ANI/10/102 to contain details of a consultation on a new flag or discussion about the flying of the flag.

Instead a flimsy file was extracted from the PRONI archive with a single cutting from the letters page of the 8 May 1964 edition of the News Letter inside. The letter penned by Malcolm McKee described How Northern Ireland got its flag.

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