Tag Archives: northern ireland

A Northern Ireland flag idea

There has been some discussion across the Irish Sea about a new, neutral, flag for Northern Ireland, so I thought I’d have a go at something.

I’ve based this on the red-hand-on-hexagon idea which I used in a proposed coat of arms, dividing the whole flag into six parts extending from the six points of the hexagon (Northern Ireland consists of six counties, and the hexagon shape is seen in the columns of Giant’s Causeway). Various colour combinations are possible.

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This one uses red, white, blue and green. Red, white and blue are the colours of the UK flag. Green is the traditional colour for Ireland; white and green appear in the flag of the Irish Republic; blue is the background colour of the Irish coat of arms, which is used both by the Republic and in the British royal arms. Alternatively, red represents the peoples, blue the sea and lakes, green the island of Ireland.

Other possibilities add orange, for the Unionist community, with green representing the Nationalist community, or splitting the flag between the colours of the national flags of the UK and Ireland – red, white and blue in one half; green, white and orange in the other.

In all these flags, white extends throughout, representing the aspiration for peace.

ni-six-part-flag-orange ni-six-part-flag-diag

Here’s another version, with wider white bands and the diagonal arms not centred on points of the hexagon, which increases the area of the top and bottom sections:

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UK royal arms : ditch the harp?

vx-uk-shieldDespite the fact that most of Ireland left the UK in 1922, and became a republic in 1949, the British royal arms still uses the arms of Ireland (Azure, a harp Or stringed Argent), presumably on the grounds that it represents Northern Ireland; but perhaps also because of a conservative resistence to change (also seen in resistence to changing the UK flag if Scotland becomes independent).
But does it make sense to use the arms of the Irish nation to represent an entity which consists of only six of the nine counties of one of the four provinces of Ireland? Does it make sense when the reason for Northern Ireland’s existence is that its unionist majority wanted to be British rather than Irish? Would it not be more sensible to replace the Irish harp with something specific to Northern Ireland, and leave the harp to the republic?
The question is : what should replace the harp for Northern Ireland? The obvious place to go for arms is to the province of Ulster.
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The arms of Ulster

The ancient symbol of Ulster is the famous Red Hand of O’Neill, which dates back to pagan times. In the 13th century this was placed on a white shield on the red cross on yellow of Walter de Burgh, who had become Earl of Ulster. This remains the arms of the whole province (nine counties). 

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Northern Ireland government arms, pre-1972
The government of Northern Ireland which existed until 1972 used the hand on a six-pointed star (for the six counties) ensigned by a royal crown and placed on a St.George’s cross (red on white). The banner of these arms are still used (unofficially) as a flag of Northern Ireland today, but it is particularly associated with unionism (the English cross and royal crown are not exactly popular with nationalists!). What is needed now is something which is acceptable to the whole community.
The traditional arms of Ulster seem the obvious starting point, but they need to be modified to represent the six counties, instead of the whole province. Since the six-pointed star is fairly sectarian, another alternative would be to use a hexagon. The six sides still represent the six counties, but the shape also alludes to the basalt columns of Giant’s Causeway, a spectacular and thoroughly non-sectarian natural site in Northern Ireland.

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Northern Ireland: coat of arms idea

Giant’s Causeway, with its hexagonal columns

The would give us a nice, completely red-and-gold, royal coat of arms, with or without Wales:

vx-uk-nowales-altni vx-uk-wales-altni

And if Scotland leaves the union:

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Copyright © 2014 Vexaldry,
except the image of the pre-1972 Northern Ireland arms is from Wikipedia by Adelbrecht, and the image of Giant’s Causeway is from Wikipedia by Chmee2; both reproduced under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licence.

Here we go again! ….

Another idea for a no-Scotland UK flag. Like one of my earlier ones, this has similarities to the South African flag because of the sideways “Y” shape (a “pall fesswise” in heraldry). There’s no attempt to represent individual countries : instead, the three arms of the pall represent the three remaining UK nations. Red and white are the two colours common to all three constituent national flags, and blue represents the sea in which this island nation sits. Because of the colours, this still has a British feel to it.

uk-pall-rwb

Here it is along with the royal standard and various ensigns. The ensigns are proportioned 1:2 whereas the land flags are 3:5, as is usual practice in the UK nowadays

uk-pall-rbw-flags

The background could be green, represent the land and green fields, and giving all the main colours of the three flags, but I prefer the blue:

uk-pall-rwg

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Yet another rUK idea

Something a bit more radical, which works with or without Scotland:

For a single, unified flag for England plus one or more Celtic countries (Scotland, Wales, NI), we could dispense with St.George (who was not English, and never came anywhere near England) and replace his cross with the cross flory from the attributed arms of St. Edward the Confessor and other Saxon kings. Then add a circle in the middle to produce a “Celtic cross flory”.

If all the symbolism is in the design, the colours wouldn’t really matter, but I’ve used the blue and gold of the attributed Saxon kings’ arms, plus one version in the traditional red, white and blue.

ukewni-celtic-crosses-flory

The only trouble is that the “Celtic cross flory” looks familiar to me, but I can’t think where from.

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A couple more UK-without-Scotland ideas

Two more weeks to go before we discover whether the UK will need a new flag or not, so unless and until the need goes away, I’ll keep dreaming things up! These keeps all the crosses and their backgrounds intact:

uk england on roundel

uk england on diamond

Of course, if Scotland does remain in the UK, there’s still the little matter of getting Wales into the flag.

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Another rUK flag

I’ve just come up with this idea for a UK without Scotland. Trying to keep it simple while representing all three remaining nations (England, Wales, Northern Ireland), I’ve taken my inspiration from South Africa. Here the colours are from the three flags (red and white St.George’s Cross for England, red and white St.Patrick’s Cross for Northern Ireland, and the red, white and green Ddraig Goch flag of Wales), but no specific national symbols are included. The three arms represent the three nations:

uk-sa-idea

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UK Royal Arms without Scotland

So what if Scotland votes for independence? Should the remaining UK (“rUK” for short) keep its flag? Should the Queen keep her present UK coat of arms?

There are those who say “yes”. Some want to keep the Union Jack because it is such an established, iconic and famous flag. I understand that sentiment. Others come up with arguments against change on the grounds that there is no need to change royal emblems because the Queen will still be Queen of an independent Scotland as well as the rUK. This idea may have made sense in past centuries, when a personal union of Crowns meant at least some degree of personal union of government too, as in the seventeenth century when the separate kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland shared a monarch.

We don’t live in that world any more. The Queen today is already Queen of sixteen different independent realms. Although one natural person, she is sixteen different legal personalities, with sixteen different crowns, different titles, different flags and different coats of arms. If Scotland becomes independent, it will become the seventeenth Commonwealth realm, no different in status from Canada, Australia or Jamaica. The Queen of Scots will become a separate legal entity from the Queen of the UK, and you can bet your life that she won’t be displaying the arms of England, Northern Ireland and Wales north of the border on the grounds that “she’s Queen of the UK too”!

If this logic was applied now, if the Queen’s other realms were to be represented in her British royal arms, we would have something like the image below. I didn’t attempt to include all the crests and supporters, and I can’t even imagine what the combined flag would look like!

queen-all-realms-small

If Scotland leaves, the remaining United Kingdom of England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be a different realm from the UKGBNI, despite being its “continuator state”. Times will have changed. Just as the royal arms and national flag changed when England and Scotland united, and again when Ireland joined the union, so too they should change to reflect the new reality of a union without Scotland, and not try and cling on to a lost past. This didn’t happen when 26 counties of Ireland left the Union, but in that case the remaining six counties could be used to justify the retention of the Irish harp and St.Patrick’s Cross. That justification won’t exist if the whole of Scotland leaves.

There has been plenty of talk about a post-Scotland flag. I posted some ideas in a previous blog, and I’ll write another one about it shortly. The royal arms get less attention, though, but they should be an easier proposition. Without Scotland, Wales will be the second nation of the rUK, in size and population, and so it should take Scotland’s place. The Red Dragon would return to the royal arms for the first time since 1603, while Scotland would return to its pre-union arms:
uk-noscot-and-scotland


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