The Union Flag. By any objective measure it’s a cool flag, it stands out from the crowd.
It is, of course, a symbol of the Union of the three Kingdoms of St George, St Andrew and St Patrick… and in Northern Ireland it is a symbol of Unionist insecurity.
Which is odd, because the “Union” it represents (less 26 counties) is supposedly now secure, insofar as it ever reasonably can be.
Yet in my home village of Groomsport there is a daft attempt ongoing to get yet another Union Flag placed on permanent display – in addition to the three already there. Why? Would an equivalent fishing village in Britain have more than three?
What is it about Unionists that they have to be uber-British about these things? Why on earth would they make a memorial to brave young men, of all things, the latest place to turn into a counter-intuitive dogfight about flags? The cenotaph in Groomsport has managed perfectly well for over 90 years without a Union Flag – why precisely, in AD 2012, does it need one now? Cenotaphs exist all over Britain without flags – so why would one in Northern Ireland need one?
The same applies on civic buildings. In Britain, typically, the Union Flag flies on civic buildings only on “designated days”, of which there are currently 18-20. Perfectly sensibly, that is the rule at Stormont. So why precisely are civic buildings in Northern Ireland, most obviously Belfast City Hall, made an exception to this pan-British norm?
What is it about Unionists that they seek to abuse their own flag? What is it about Unionists that they seek to be different from British people in Britain all the time? What is it about Unionists that they seek to make Northern Ireland an exception to British conventions?
Is it not time they calmed down and started behaving, well, you know, like British people?