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Wanted in Orkney: History Lesson

A display of flags to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s 70th jubilee has exposed a lack of knowledge in Orkney about the UK.

The UK comprises, Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. But not according to Orkney where council leaders and tourism chiefs must have missed every history lesson going. Included in the display is the flag of the independent republic of Ireland.

The display is situated at the travel centre in Kirkwall where tens of thousands of international visitors arrive during the summer months. The visitors will include those from the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and those of Irish descent now living in the USA.

The Irish Free State was created in 1922 and in 1949, Ireland was officially declared a Republic.

It does present difficulties to represent Northern Ireland with a flag. The Good Friday Agreement states:

All participants acknowledge the sensitivity of the use of symbols and emblems for public purposes, and the need in particular in creating the new institutions to ensure that such symbols and emblems are used in a manner which promotes mutual respect rather than division.

“In December 2021, the Commission on Flags, Identity, Culture and Tradition (FICT) published its final report which included a recommendation that a new “Civic Flag for Northern Ireland” should be adopted and be flown at buildings of the Northern Ireland Executive, Northern Ireland Assembly and local district councils in Northern Ireland. The commissions suggested that the design for the new flag should incorporate expressions of Britishness and Irishness and should also represent the diversity of the community in Northern Ireland.” Wikipedia

Indeed the flying of the Irish Tricolour displayed alongside the Union Jack is favoured by the nationalist party  Sinn Féin as a compromise but not by the Unionists. Maybe those in the higher echelons of School Place know more about the future of a United Ireland than we do?

Fiona Grahame

2 replies »

  1. I wrote a letter to the Council and to Cruise Orkney about them flying the flag of the Irish Republic as part of the Jubilee celebrations and the Cruise Orkney ‘Welcome’ for passengers from the liners. The Republic of Ireland isn’t part of the mis-named UK.
    Here’s the letter…..

    “Wed. 8th of June
    Subject:- Please remove the flag of the Irish Republic from your display.

    They used the Irish Tri-colour at one of the Jubilee celebrations in London. That was annoying – whoever organized that should have done their research – but I did think – well, it’s England. No excuse – though possibly a reason.

    Having the Irish Tricolour alongside the Union Jack flags in Orkney is worse, much worse – even more of an insult as those organizing this display should have been aware enough of shared history to not have done this. https://twitter.com/FionaGrahame/status/1534445732249354241?cxt=HHwWgoCy3e-QucsqAAAA

    So many people died and suffered to gain Independence for Ireland, resulting in the Republic of today.

    I ask that the Irish Tri-colour is immediately removed from this display.

    Bernie Bell

    And I would like to add this as a comment to Fiona’s piece…..

    Unfortunately Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are still subject nations.

    Meanwhile Ireland…. is a Republic.

    Here’s a reminder of how that came about – for those in ignorance of some basic history.

    OF THE
    IRISHMEN AND IRISHWOMEN : In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom.
    Having organised and trained her manhood through her secret revolutionary organisation, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and through her open military organisations, the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army, having patiently perfected her discipline, having resolutely waited for the right moment to reveal itself, she now seizes that moment, and supported by her exiled children in America and by gallant allies in Europe, but relying in the first on her own strength, she strikes in full confidence of victory.
    We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible. The long usurpation of that right by a foreign people and government has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the Irish people. In every generation the Irish people have asserted their right to national freedom and sovereignty; six times during the past three hundred years they have asserted it in arms. Standing on that fundamental right and again asserting it in arms in the face of the world, we hereby proclaim the Irish Republic as a Sovereign Independent State, and we pledge our lives and the lives of our comrades in arms to the cause of its freedom, of its welfare, and of its exaltation among the nations.
    The Irish Republic is entitled to, and hereby claims, the allegiance of every Irishman and Irishwoman. The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all of the children of the nation equally, and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien Government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past.
    Until our arms have brought the opportune moment for the establishment of a permanent National Government, representative of the whole people of Ireland and elected by the suffrages of all her men and women, the Provisional Government, hereby constituted, will administer the civil and military affairs of the Republic in trust for the people.
    We place the cause of the Irish Republic under the protection of the Most High God, Whose blessing we invoke upon our arms, and we pray that no one who serves that cause will dishonour it by cowardice, inhumanity, or rapine. In this supreme hour the Irish nation must, by its valour and discipline, and by the readiness of its children to sacrifice themselves for the common good, prove itself worthy of the august destiny to which it is called.
    Signed on behalf of the Provisional Government,

  2. OK right then – I’m not on Facebook to respond to the comments there– but here goes…. I’m no historian, just of Irish descent.

    I’d say that the Red Hand of Ulster isn’t associated with the Troubles – that name has been given to that area for a long time – Ulster, Leinster, Munster and Connacht – the four Provinces of Ireland https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Provinces_of_Ireland

    Just my view – but I’d say the Red Hand on the Red Cross of Ulster would be appropriate along with the Saltire for Scotland and the Welsh Dragon as part of a display such as this – if they have to be included at all.
    Until, of course, the Tricolour of the Republic becomes applicable for the whole of Ireland!

    “A nation once again,
    A nation once again
    And Ireland long a province be…
    A nation once again!”

    And, while I’m here, I’ll point out that the LGBT folk are a group of people, not a nation. They do have a flag – I could have a flag if I wanted to. You are just taking the opportunity to be mean about the LGBT people. ‘Do as you would be done by.’

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