While visiting Belfast last weekend, we happened upon one of the flag protests going on in the city.
The protests centre about a disagreement regarding the flying on the UK union flag (sometimes called the union jack) from Belfast City Hall.
The flying of flags in Northern Ireland is a contentious issue to start with. The unionists, who align themselves with the UK, want to keep the symbol of the UK – the union flag – while republican nationalists, who align themselves with the Republic of Ireland, want to fly the Irish Tricolour.
The problem, as I see it, is that Northern Ireland doesn’t have a flag of it’s own. All of the other parts of the UK (England, Scotland and Wales) each have their own flag. But there’s no flag that denotes the six counties of Northern Ireland. There is the Flag of Ulster, which covers the entire province of Ulster including the 3 counties in the republic, and there’s the Ulster Banner, but that has no official standing (and looks a bit too much like the English St George’s cross).
If they had their own flag, it may just help move away from the unionist and republican posturing, and help Northern Ireland unite as one community.
I’m not sure exactly what a Northern Ireland flag should look like, but I quite like the idea of this guy, who suggests a green saltire (as pictured here). Although I accept the green colour may not be acceptable to some.
Maybe the Northern Ireland Assembly should commission the design of several different flags, and the people given a referendum to vote on which one they want.