Local News

Update on ‘Wanted in Orkney: History Lesson’

The display of flags to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s 70th jubilee and which exposed a lack of knowledge in Orkney about the UK has now been changed.

The flag of the Independent Republic of Ireland has now been taken down where it was mistakenly flying as if that nation was still part of 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 was 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

Fiona Grahame

4 replies »

  1. 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 don

    • The Red Hand of Ulster unfortunately does have connections with the troubles. One of the most vicious loyalist groups were the Red Hand Commandos. They were basically a gang from the UDA and UVF with special interest in murdering. The Red Hand symbol was usurped by unionists, who tended to called N. Ireland ‘Ulster’ even though it wasn’t. I’m was only two thirds of Ulster, with the missing counties of Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan in the Irish Republic. The Ulster provincial flag is a red hand on a white shield placed in the centre a red cross on a yellow background, based on the O’Neill coat of arms, as they were traditional Ulster rulers. The Northern Ireland flag places the red hand in a six pointed star in the middle of a St. George’s Cross, surmounted by a crown, all on a white background. It is not accepted by the nationalist community in Northern Ireland as it is seen by them as a sectarian symbol.

      • Hello Eamonn

        I was going by what I grew up with – that the flag of Ulster is the red hand – going way, way back, as you say, to the O’Neill’s and maybe further.

        You’re in a better position to know than I am though.

        The more I think about it the more I wonder why they don’t just have a row of Orkney flags – ‘Welcome to Orkney.’

        The whole thing was mis-judged – whatever the details about the flags.

        Just my view.

  2. That should read….’Do as you would be done by’ – my email is mis-behaving!

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