Ah, the voice of Christmas past. Somewhere in the political undergrowth there is a rustling of leaves, a grave opens and out emerges Lord Kilclooney, aka John Taylor, to tell us what to think about flags.
First, we should have a Northern Ireland flag. Just the way Scotland and Wales and England have their flag, but still stiffen to loyal attention in the face of the Union Jack, so Northern Ireland can and should have a flag that represents it alone, while at the same time stiffening with pride before the Union Jack.
“It should now be possible to design a regional flag, not to replace the Union Flag, which is acceptable to both communities in Northern Ireland and flown at all local authority buildings irrespective of which party controls these councils”. Poor and confusing syntax there, John, but I think we get the idea. Flying the Irish Tricolour, on the other hand, according to John, would probably see Stormont collapse.
God, John, you’re a laugh a minute. This burning desire to create a Northern Ireland flag, and at the same time threaten meltdown if there’s any Tricolour flying – it wouldn’t have anything to do with the change in the number of councils that’s coming up? Because it’s a decent bet that of the eleven new councils, some like Derry City and Strabane District or Fermanagh and Omagh District or Newry City, Mourne and Down District will want to fly the tricolour. And think how awful that would be.
What the rest of us must get into our heads is that the flying of a NI flag is good, the flying of the Union Flag is good, but that the flying of the Tricolour would be disastrous. With his proposal the good Lord is showing the importance of getting your retaliation in first.
Will many people salute this new NI flag that dear John is running up the flagpole? Not in the nationalist/republican community there aren’t. Given that many of us finding it jarring to even use the words “Northern Ireland” as that would be to give some form of assent and legitimacy to a state carved out under threat of force and along strictly sectarian lines, there’s as much chance of that community agreeing to a Northern Ireland flag as there is of dear John making a comeback and seizing the UUP steering wheel from the trembling hands of Mike Nesbitt.
But full marks for trying, John. Now back you go to that grave in the political jungle, better known as the House of Lords.