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


  1. Interesting projects. And how do you like this - https://plus.google.com/u/0/

    1. sorry that link doesn't seem to be working

    2. That flag from 2009 did not come from England. I designed it and am from Co. Antrim. I merely posted it anywhere where people where discussing this topic, and that Conservative guy merely re-posted it.

      I posted several others at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:SVG_flags_-_proposed_of_Northern_Ireland as user Palomca.

      (though have several more than that) These have been replicated all over the place.
      When I get time I will build a website that will look at this issue from a wider and more integrated perspective soon. I have an alternative approach to that design which I think will work better and will detail it there.

    3. I created a new website that I mentioned above as "PM423425" at http://freshni.org . The green version posted above is too complex and not as simple as the older white version with hexagon which I designed in 2008. An older version of the green from 2009 also forms the basis of what I think is an excellent all-Ireland flag too, intentionally one that shares commonalities with the Northern Ireland flag.

      Please check out http://freshni.org/northernireland.html and http://freshni.org/islandofireland.html for design details.

  2. I think your timeline could also include this from the 1950s/60s:

    and these from the 1999 Ulster Rugby final: