Tuesday, 31 December 2013

No flag Deal

Well the "Hass Talks" end with no real deal, while flags is only a minor issue compared with the other topics, it is good to see the frame work and progress made, hopefully local politicians will continue the process and build on the regional Northern Ireland flag idea in the near future.  

The First Minister has said that compared to six months ago significant progress has been made.  Of particular interest a "Commission on Identity, Culture and Tradition" who's immediate but not only role would be to look at flags and the roles they play was proposed.
To see a PDF of the final draft proposal click here and fallow the link, of particular interest on flags are pages 15 - 18. This could still be implemented.

I'd like to wish everyone a most happy New Year
Blythe Ne'er'd Day!

Friday, 20 December 2013

Christian Flag

As this is probably going to be the last post before Christmas I thought I should focus on a Christian flag, as Christmas is (or at least is supposed to be) a celebration on the birth of our Lord Jesus. The Christian faith is separate from a lot of the other main world faiths and religions in that it has no universal recognised faith flag. However a lot of the different denominations, sub denominations and sects often have their own flags some examples of which are below:


The Church of England uses a St Georges Cross with the arms of the relevant deaconess in the canton, (in this example the deaconess of Canterbury).
The Church of Australia feature a St Georges Cross with the traditional headdress of a Bishop. The blue field reflects the colour of the national flag, with a commonwealth star which represents all the states and territories in each quarter.

The Church of Ireland simply uses the Cross of St Patrick although it the UK flag has been observed being flown from Church of Ireland buildings in Northern Ireland.

 This is the general flag used by the Anglican Communion all over the world .


The Church of Scotland uses the Cross of St Andrew defaced with its Burning Bush insignia from the Book of Exodus

 The Presbyterian Church in America uses a flame cross logo rather than the bush used in Europe on a white field

Although the Churches in America also seems to use unofficial flags like this one with the cross logo on the cross of St Andrew.

Roman Catholic

According to Flags of the World the official flag of the Roman Catholic Church is an elongated bannerette type flag divided into a gold and white field.

 However I think most people are more familiar with the flag of the Vatican City, and associate more with it.


Salvation Army
Greek Orthodox Church

There have proposals for an interdenominational Christian flag such as the one below which appeared in the early 20th Century USA.
This is a popular flag with churches of various different denominations throughout America, the symbolism of the cross in the canton is self explanatory, the colours represent the blood of Jesus (red) faithfulness (blue) and purity white. It is sometimes defaced with the symbol of church or denomination in the fly. Although it is used in the USA, Latin America and to a lesser extent in Africa it is little used in Europe and Asia (possibly because of its similarity to the American flag).
My proposal for a Christian flag is simply a white field with a gold cross:
Or a fish which was used in the early days of the Church when the Christians were persecuted by the Romans, because there are unfortunately parts of the world were people of various faiths are prosecuted, this could be used where people for whatever reason might want to identify themselves to other Christians but at the same time try to disguise the fact from others:

or alternatively a trexelon or trillium to represent the three faces of God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).


Er Yin Hae Blythe Yule an a haud Hogmanay!

Everyone have a Happy Christmas and a good New Year!

Monday, 16 December 2013

CG3: Australia

As it is nearly Christmas and I don't think I'll be typing too much over the holidays and there are a few Commonwealth flags I want to write about before the Commonwealth Games begin, I think I should get a move on!
The next flag on my list is that of Australia:
According to the Australian Government website, the flag became the flag of Australia 1 January, 1901, when the Australian states became federal parts of a new commonwealth of Australia. However it did not gain official Royal Assent until 1954. So unlike other flags and as some people think, it is not something left over from the "colonial Days" (there was no colony known as Australia, but six separate British colonies which became the federal states). However as the Union Flag was used collectively by the former colonies, and despite its commonwealth status, I think its fair to say in 1901 Australia was still a dominion of empire or at least still maintained strong British links and influence. Likewise most of the colonies would have used their own versions of British ensigns on sea if not on land, and the Australian flag was evidently the next stage from that.
There are some who want a new flag primarily without the Union Jack, while others wish to keep it for historical, ancestral or cultural reasons, I can understand and respect both sides in this. In the commonwealth games quite a few nations and territories taking part have Union Jacks in their flags and it is from the view point of avoiding confusion that I think a new flag could be used, for the games at least.
Alterative Australia flags are nothing new, even before 1901, people were designing flags for an Australian nation such as the national colonial flag and similar federation flag and Eureka flag (below):
File:Eureka Flag.svg
In modern sport it is also not uncommon for the Australian fans to carry their own versions of the Australian flag, even if these are only in a fun sporting context, such as the boxing kangaroo flag that is easily available in flag shops:
Of course a flag like that couldn't be used in any formal or official context, however different flags are used in formal roles in sport. The Australian Football Federation has its own flag, although it is used alongside the Australian flag it does demonstrate the will of a formal 'sporting' flag:
I am not normally in favour of the use of coats of arms in flags however, I think the colour scheme makes a difference, If the text is removed and perhaps the complete coat of arms reduced to a shield, while not perfect I think this flag might have potential.
But the flag I would propose for the Commonwealth Games would be a simple flag in the green and gold sports colours with the Southern Cross and Commonwealth/Federal star:
However if you asked me to propose a new national flag then I would have to direct you to my favourite Australia flag proposal by Paul James on the Flags Forum:
Don't forget to look out for the "CG" in the title for more flag ideas and related posts in the count down to the 2014 Commonwealth Games. You can see past CG posts below

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

New NI Flag picking up momentum

Despite the idea of a new NI flag generally getting the cold shoulder (with a few exceptions, such as the Enterprise Minister supporting St Patrick's Saltire getting official status) lots of people have been thinking of designs (both good and bad but that's not the point), Here is last Weeks Belfast Telegraph. Some regular readers of my blog might see one or two of my designs there :)


Also I'd like to direct you to some other blog posts by different people on the subject. They might be political analyses but make interesting reading:
Am Ghobsmacht!
A Yellow Guard
I particularly like Yellow Guard's idea:
"The Single Transferable Voting system that everybody in Northern Ireland is very familiar with is designed for this sort of thing.  Put the Ulster Banner on the ballot with 5 others and let everybody decide on the same day as the Assembly elections in 2015."
I think its a very practical and realistic way of democratically choosing a flag. (that is the people choose a flag rather than a government committee).
Of course most political voices have responded negatively if at all, but to quote Cpt Jack Sparrow:

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Siege Flags on the Walls of Derry

Apprentice Boys of Derry Club assisted by the Police Service and City Marshals placing the siege flags on Walker's Plinth on Royal Bastion of the historic city walls of Londonderry, and preparing the effigy of the traitor Lundy on Saturday 7th December 2013. This is done annually on the first Saturday of December to mark the anniversary of the Shutting of the Gates of Londonderry on 18th December 1688.
On the 18th December 1688 thirteen Apprentice Boys seized the keys and shut the city gates against the Earl of Antrim's Regiment know as the Redshanks, who had been ordered by the viceroy of King James II to take over the garrison of the city. Thus beginning the siege of Derry.
The siege flags are flown from the walls on the anniversaries of both the Shutting of the Gates, and Relief of Derry at the beginning and end of the siege respectfully.
The Cross of St George on the left and Green Ensign on the right were the flags used in Ireland on land and at sea at the time of the siege. St George's Cross being used on Garrisons like Londonderry and the Green Ensign used on Irish ships although it is debated if this flag had any official status, there is evidence it was used none the less.
The flag in the centre is known as the Crimson Banner and it was first hoisted on the walls and later St Columb's Cathedral by the cities Governor Colonel Mitchelburne as a symbol of defiance or distress or possibly to boost moral, depending on who you talk to. Local legend says the crimson colour comes from the flag being stained by the blood of the city's defenders although sources differ on what the original flag was, some say it was a rag dipped in blood one says it was an unused maritime ensign stained with blood. Col Mitchelburne founded the forerunner of the Apprentice Boys Clubs in 1714 and left money in his will to hoist his Crimson flag from the Cathedral on the anniversaries of the beginning and end of the siege, which continues today. As well as the walls and Cathedral the crimson flag is flown from the Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall, and versions are carried by Apprentice Boys clubs on parade.
At the end of the video is the effigy of the traitor Lundy. Lundy was Governor at the beginning of the siege but wanted to surrender, he is even accused of leaving the gates open one night, and of various attempts to sabotage the city's defence. He later fled the city disguised as a common soldier which is why he is remembered as a traitor. His effigy is ritually burned on the anniversary of the shutting on the gates.
For more information on the city walls, the siege, or the commemorations you can visit:
Associated Clubs of the Apprentice Boys of Derry Website
Derry's Walls Website
Siege Hero's Trail
Or various documentaries about the siege on YouTube
BBC "The Siege"
BBC "Battle Field Britain" Clip
Museum audio-visual displays: One, Two and Three.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

A short history of NI flag proposals

I wasn't going to do a post this week but I have just heard on the News that the chair of the all party talks, US Diplomat Richard Hass has asked the five main political parties in Northern Ireland about their view on a new NI flag. He is expecting a response before he arrives in the province next week to chair further talks. I sent in some ideas on possible flags to the chair and vice chair a while ago, but ever since the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement of 1998 various individuals and organisations have proposed new designs.
  • 1922

Perhaps the most obvious flag is St Patrick's Saltire used in various flags including the Union Flag and Ulster Nation Flag.

It was used to represent NI alongside England, Wales and Scotland between NI's creation in 1922 to 1953 and more recently on occasion in the 21st century. it is also the centre piece on the NI police badge.
  • 1944

The World Book Encyclopaedia (Chicago 1944) shows the NI flag as a blue ensign defaced with a harp:
I am not aware of any such flag being used in this capacity and is probably just an Irish symbol inserted in the fly of a British ensign to meet the vexillologist's perceived need for a Northern Ireland flag. Or it is confusing a corrupted version of the green ensign with the Northern Ireland flag or is possibly even a proposal.
  • 1946

Another Flag is the Ulster Nation Flag:

Ever since a small movement for Northern Ireland independence was created in 1946, a flag would be needed. Initially they wanted Dominion status like Canada and Australia. The flag of this "Ulster Nation" was to be a St Patricks Cross on a St Andrews Cross with the Red Hand of Ulster and Star in the centre. This flag can still be seen today although(Ironically) mostly by unionists
  • 1953

 Next is the only NI flag proposal to ever be officially used in that capacity the Ulster Banner:
Although this is a banner of the Northern Ireland coat of arms granted in the 1920s it was not used as a flag until 1953, initially to celebrate the Queen's coronation. It was the official NI flag between 1953 and 1973, when the Northern Ireland Parliament was dismantled, This flag is still the most popular flag among unionists after the Union Jack, and still used by the Northern Ireland international football team and commonwealth games team.
  • 1998

Fallowing the establishment of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Good Friday agreement in the 1990s the Flag Institute proposed some designs for a new flag:

Both were based on a combination of the former Ulster Banner and provincial flag of Ulster, the first featured the six pointed star, however aware this might be disapproved of by nationalists proposed a second version based on a Celtic cross, neither design was officially adopted.
  • 2003

The Northern Ireland Alliance Party which sees itself as cross community proposed a flag in 2003
This rather unattractive flag was simply a map of Northern Ireland on a blue field, their was also suggestions the Giant's Causeway might be used, thankfully this flag did not gain support.
  • 2009

In 2009 the British Comedian Eddie Izzard ran around the United Kingdom for charity. In each region he carried that regions respective flag, but used his own design for NI:
It featured a green field with a dove at the top end of the fly. When asked about it he said green represented Northern Ireland, and was taken from the national football top, and the dove represent peace.
Another proposal came from Palomca and was later rebloged by the Conservative Councillor of Reading Richard Willis:

His flag consisted of St Patrick's Cross on a green field with the red hand of Ulster in a hexagon, which could symbolise both the six NI counties and/or the Giant's Causeway. Although his design received largely negative feedback on the blog the hexagon idea has been adopted in numerous other proposals.

  • 2010

In 2010 Dr Dominic Bryan of Queens University Belfast was interviewed about the Northern Ireland flag by the BBC he came up with the fallowing proposal:

It featured the colours of both UK and Republic of Ireland flags with the red hand in the centre, he also suggested an alternative red hand based on a child's hand to symbolise the future. His proposal was taken by the BBC to the streets of East and West Belfast and got a mixed response with no real progress.

If the Hass Talks reach their deadline of before the new year Northern Ireland could have a new flag by 2014!
links to the current news report

 Unfortunately but not unexpectedly the Hass talks made little to no progress on flags and emblems