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Island residents welcome official recognition for Barra flag

The project gained significance after the death of Eilidh MacLeod, 14, from the island, in the Ariana Grande concert blast.

The remote Isle of Barra has had its flag officially recognised after a long campaign gathered momentum following the Manchester terror attack.

In December, a meeting was held to discuss getting the Scandinavian-style banner submitted to the Lyon Court, the heraldic authority for Scotland.

Having been championed locally, the project gained significance after Eilidh MacLeod, 14, from the island, was killed in the Ariana Grande concert blast.

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An order of service at the funeral of Manchester bomb victim Eilidh MacLeod (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The announcement comes six months after the attack which killed 22 people.

Philip Tibbetts, of the Flag Institute, said: “It is wonderful to see the Barra flag achieve official recognition with the Lyon Court, having been used so extensively over the years.

“In this past year Barra has shown the importance that a flag can have for its community – not only as a celebration but also as a symbol to rally around.

“As such it has been both an honour and humbling to have assisted Barra since I was first invited to the island last year.

“I am sure it will serve as a powerful example to the many other communities thinking of developing their own flag to promote their own identity and the patchwork of national heritage.”

The distinctive green and white Nordic cross has been widely used on the island for decades, but until now has had no legal recognition.

Despite this, it had been put on local produce, flown over buildings and boats and used at community events.

The flag was also draped over Eilidh’s coffin when her body was repatriated to the island for her funeral.

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The coffin of Eilidh MacLeod draped in the Barra flag is carried across Traigh Mhor beach (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Eilidh’s friend Laura MacIntyre, also from Barra, returned to school in October after months of treatment, having been seriously injured in the attack.

Barra follows in the footsteps of South Uist, which became the first island in the Outer Hebrides to have its banner gain official status.

The project was pursued by the isle’s two community councils, after the initial meeting headed by Alasdair Allan MSP.

Northbay community councillor Dolina Manford said: “I am very happy to see that the Barra flag has now received official recognition from the Lord Lyon.

“It has been a long process but now the green and white Nordic cross that has been used in Barra for a number of years is officially registered at the Lord Lyon.”

Mr Allan added: “When I originally held an exploratory meeting on this subject it was felt that recognition of the flag would help to boost the island’s marketing efforts as well as celebrate its unique identity.

“I would like to thank Dolina for her efforts in driving this forward and I look forward to seeing some of the benefits this will bring.”

The Court of the Lord Lyon has the power to authorise community flags and ensure that only one community can use any one design.

Meanwhile, the Flag Institute is the world’s leading research and documentation centre for flags.

Funding for the campaign was provided by community charity Barra and Vatersay Voluntary Action.

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