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Why is blind eye turned when Irish tricolour burned?

Published 09/06/2015

The hoisting and flying of the Irish tricolour over Parliament Buildings at Stormont has drawn a disproportionate, vitriolic response from unionism.

The tricolour is reported to have been flown for about 10 minutes. The PSNI is to carry out a formal investigation into the matter, the Secretary of State has been informed, the Northern Ireland Assembly is to debate the issue and Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister has called for "robust" action against those responsible.

Every July, many Northern Catholics feel the necessity to leave their homes to escape the Eleventh Night.

Across the north, hundreds of "towering infernos" are built, most surmounted with the national flag of the Irish Republic. These bonfires are tolerated by the unionist communities, local authorities and police.

Indeed, many of those unionists who are offended by the flying of the tricolour for 10 minutes over Stormont seem unconcerned.

As a further insult, since 2010, Belfast City Council has financed a scheme whereby those associated with these bonfires can claim £100 if no Irish tricolours are incinerated.

Offering financial inducements to cease burning the Irish national flag is an appalling affront to the citizens of the Republic of Ireland.

Nowhere else in Europe would the annual ceremonial burning of many hundreds of the national flag of a peaceful neighbouring state go virtually uncommented upon.

What if every Bastille Day the Union flag was burned across France, or if every St George's Day, the flags of Pakistan, Jamaica, or Nigeria were burned in British cities?

There would be harsh diplomatic protests. But in Northern Ireland, this systematic and deliberate incitement to hatred has been allowed to become an integral part of unionist culture to such an extent that it hardly draws comment from British secretaries of state, unionist politicians, the media and, in particular the Irish government, which allows this annual affront to their national flag to continue without a word of protest.


Irish National Congress

Belfast Telegraph

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