Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Irish language on St Patrick's Day parade flag prompts unionist boycott

Flag wavers in Downpatrick during the St Patrick's Day parade. 2009
Flag wavers in Downpatrick during the St Patrick's Day parade. 2009
Street entertainment in the St Patrick's Day parade in Downpatrick, 2004
St Patrick's Day Cross Community Carnival Parade - Downpatrick 17 March 2011
St Patrick's Day Cross Community Carnival Parade - Downpatrick 17 March 2011
St Patrick's Day Cross Community Carnival Parade - Downpatrick 17 March 2011
St Patrick's Day Cross Community Carnival Parade - Downpatrick 17 March 2011
St Patrick's Day Cross Community Carnival Parade - Downpatrick 17 March 2011
St Patrick's Day Cross Community Carnival Parade - Downpatrick 17 March 2011
St Patrick's Day Cross Community Carnival Parade - Downpatrick 17 March 2011
St Patrick's Day Cross Community Carnival Parade - Downpatrick 17 March 2011
St Patrick's Day Cross Community Carnival Parade - Downpatrick 17 March 2011
St Patrick's Day Cross Community Carnival Parade - Downpatrick 17 March 2011
St Patrick's Day Cross Community Carnival Parade - Downpatrick 17 March 2011
St Patrick's Day Cross Community Carnival Parade - Downpatrick 17 March 2011
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and making it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. A pipe band leads the parade through the city centre.
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
Stacey Solomon sings in Belfast City Centre.
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
St Patrick's Day in Belfast city centre 2011
Lemar sings in Belfast City Centre
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and making it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. The parade makes it's way through the city centre.
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and making it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. A young piper in the PSNI Pipe band makes his way through the city centre with the parade.
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and making it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. A piper in the PSNI Pipe band makes his way through the city centre with the parade.
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and making it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. People involved in the parade make there way through the city centre.
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and making it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. Left to right. Anna Gonzlez, Angela Mora, Rocio Cruz from Spain.
People line the streets of Belfast for the annual St Patrick's Day parade. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 17, 2011. Celebrations are taking place in towns and cities across Northern Ireland to mark St Patrick's Day. In Belfast a colourful march left City Hall led by pipe bands and featuring environment-themed floats. Thousands of people have lined the streets of the city centre for the annual procession. See PA story ULSTER Parade. Photo credit should read: Paul Faith/PA Wire
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and makeing it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. Seven-year-old Lois Lynch from Belfast.
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and makeing it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. Seven-year-old Corey Light from Belfast.
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and makeing it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. Shane Friend(left) and his son Dan(right) from Belfast with Carman Acutina from the Philippines.
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and making it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. The parade makes it's way through the city centre.
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and making it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. The parade makes it's way through the city centre.
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and making it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. The parade makes it's way through the city centre.
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and making it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. The parade makes it's way through the city centre.
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and making it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. The parade makes it's way through the city centre.
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and making it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. The parade makes it's way through the city centre.
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and making it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. People enjoy the parade as it makes it's way through the city centre.
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and making it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. The parade makes it's way through the city centre.
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and makeing it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. Seven-year-old Lois Lynch from Belfast.
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and makeing it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. Left to right. Clementine Billet, Isabelle Maldera and Delphine Marcodini from near Lyon in France.
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and makeing it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. William Ford from south east England.
St Patrick's Day parade in Belfast. 2011.
St Patrick's Day parade in Belfast. 2011.
St Patrick's Day parade in Belfast. 2011.
St Patrick's Day parade in Belfast. 2011.
St Patrick's Day parade in Belfast. 2011.
St Patrick's Day parade in Belfast. 2011.
St Patrick's Day parade in Belfast. 2011.
St Patrick's Day parade in Belfast. 2011.
St Patrick's Day parade in Belfast. 2011.
Racegoers take part in an impromptue ceilidh during St Patrick's Day at Cheltenham Racecourse.
Racegoers take part in an impromptue ceilidh during St Patrick's Day at Cheltenham Racecourse. March 17, 2011. To launch picture gallery click image above
Racegoers take part in an impromptue ceilidh during St Patrick's Day at Cheltenham Racecourse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 17, 2011. See PA story RACING Cheltenham. Photo credit should read: David Jones/PA Wire.
A racegoer studies the form during St Patrick's Day at Cheltenham Racecourse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 17, 2011. See PA story RACING Cheltenham. Photo credit should read: David Jones/PA Wire.
Gloucestershire Police Inspectors Steve Templeton and Karen Ellis join in with the St. Patrick's Day spirit at Cheltenham Racecourse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 17, 2011. See PA story RACING Cheltenham. Photo credit should read: David Jones/PA Wire.
The Chicago River is dyed green for St. Patrick's Day parade in Chicago
St Patrick's Day
St Patrick's Day 2010: Derry
St Patrick's Day 2010: Armagh
St Patrick's Day 2010: Derry
St Patrick's Day celebrations take place in Belfast. Left to right. Alice McGirr, Aoibheann Shiels, Maeve Flanagan and Sinead McLaughlin pictured in Belfast City Centre. 2010
St Patrick's Day 2010: Derry
St Patrick's Day 2010: Derry
St Patrick's Day 2010: Derry
St Patrick's Day 2010: Derry
St Patrick's Day 2010: Derry
St Patrick's Day 2010: Derry
St Patrick's Day 2010: Belfast
St Patrick's Day Armagh. 2010
St Patrick's Day Armagh. 2010
St Patrick's Day Armagh. 2010
St Patrick's Day, Armagh. 2010
St Patrick's Day 2010: London
St Patrick's Day 2010: Belfast
St Patrick's Day 2010: Belfast
St Patrick's Day 2010: Belfast
St Patrick's Day 2010: Belfast
St Patrick's Day 2010: Belfast
St Patrick's Day 2010: Belfast
St Patrick's Day 2010: Belfast
St Patrick's Day 2010: Downpatrick
St Patrick's Day 2010: Downpatrick
St Patrick's Day 2010: Downpatrick
St Patrick's Day 2010: Downpatrick
St Patrick's Day 2010: Downpatrick
St Patrick's Day 2010: Belfast
St Patrick's Day 2010: Belfast
St Patrick's Day 2010: Belfast
St Patrick's Day 2010: Downpatrick
St Patrick's Day 2010: Downpatrick
St Patrick's Day 2010: Downpatrick
St Patrick's Day 2010: Downpatrick
St Patrick's Day 2010: London
St Patrick's Day 2010: London
St Patrick's Day 2010: London
St Patrick's Day 2010: London
St Patrick's Day 2010: London
St Patrick's Day 2010: Nottingham
St Patrick's Day 2010: Nottingham
St Patrick's Day 2010: Nottingham
The leaders of the four main churches take part in the St Patrick's Day parade in Downpatrick, 1985

Unionists have vowed to stay away from Northern Ireland’s biggest St Patrick’s Day parade because of a row over flags.

A sectarian row broke out over the use of the Irish language on a new flag to be handed out by Down District Council during their annual carnival on March 17.

Ironically, the flag — designed by the council’s Good Relations Forum — had been intended to defuse the tensions that arose last year when a Sinn Fein councillor insisted on carrying a 10ft Irish Tricolour during the procession.

It contains the symbol of a bishop’s mitre and crozier and includes the words ‘Downpatrick’ on one side and its Irish version, ‘Dun Padraig’, on the reverse.

Jim Wells, DUP MLA for South Down attended the carnival last year, but will not be there this Saturday in protest over the use of Irish.

“I most certainly will not be attending the parade,” he said.

“It is my personal protest against the adoption of Irish language on the flag. I believe this is a highly retrograde step. “Unfortunately, by adopting this stance they are alienating moderate unionists who would have very much liked to be associated with the the event.”

The 26-year-old Downpatrick event is widely considered to be among the most inclusive events in Northern Ireland and usually attracts more than 30,000 people.

DUP councillor William Dick in Downpatrick led the procession two years ago, but said that he too would be staying away.

“I have made it clear that I would not be going,” he said. “I was there three years ago and I was happy to lead it, but with the debate over the flag and the use of Irish on it, I believe nationalists are trying to drive a wedge between the two communities.

“This is a step backwards for community relations in Downpatrick and it is extremely disappointing that it has come to this.”

Every year Down council hands out thousands of flags with the red and white St Patrick’s Cross.

However, last year veteran republican and Sinn Fein councillor Eamonn Mac Con Midhe said he no longer supported the Cross of St Patrick, which he claimed had “a military background”.

Instead, he flew the Irish Tricolour at the front of the pageant.

DUP man William Walker said he had “no desire to attend Saturday’s festival”, adding: “And, the way that some councillors in Down District Council are getting on, they are not doing anything to entice me to go.”

Meanwhile, in Armagh the Parades Commission has decided to uphold its ruling to allow a loyalist band to parade through the city on St Patrick's Day.

Cormeen Rising Sons of William is set to hold a procession with 40 other bands and more than 1,000 supporters.

The SDLP and Sinn Fein have raised concerns about the march taking place on the city's biggest tourism day of the year.

Story so far

Last month the Belfast Telegraph revealed how deep divisions over the use of Irish on the new St Patrick’s Day flag had threatened the future of the annual carnival. The St Patrick’s Cross flag is a red saltire — or diagonal cross — on a white background. It forms part of the union flag, along with the Cross of St George and the Scottish Cross of St Andrew. A Sinn Fein councillor sparked a row over the flag of St Patrick last year, claiming it had been “militarised” because of its inclusion in the union flag. Now a proposed new flag has been objected to by unionists because of the inclusion of the Irish translation of Downpatrick — ‘Dun Padraig’ — on its reverse.

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