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Early examples of unofficial Northern Ireland flags

Last modified: 2013-12-21 by rob raeside
Keywords: northern ireland |
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Description of the flags

"Our own devices" by Ewan Morris (Dublin: Irish University Press, 2005) is an account of Irish national emblems, North and South, and of the political uses made of them in the twentieth century. On p. 116 appear two references to the use of unofficial Northern Ireland flags in the 1920s, after Northern Ireland was granted a coat of arms but long before it had an official flag.

(1) in a memorandum of the Northern Ireland Ministry of Home Affairs on 17th July 1926 (HA8/270, MHA, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland) a civil servant reports that he has recently seen (a) the Ulster Arms [by which he must mean the Northern Ireland arms, and presumably just the shield itself?] superimposed on the Union Jack, (b) a Blue Ensign and a Red Ensign with the same arms, and (c) a plain blue flag with the Arms of Ulster [or rather of Northern Ireland?] surrounded by six stars.

(2) The "Irish News" of 24th October 1932, p.4, is quoted as stating that (a) a Union Jack charged with a shield bearing the arms of Ulster [again, presumably those of Northern Ireland?] was often flown from Belfast City Hall, and that many Belfast merchants flew (b) "a blue ensign charged with the Arms of Northern Ireland surrounded by six stars".

It may be observed that all these were not mere proposals but had actually been seen in use. As the words "blue ensign" in the last example are not capitalised it is not certain that they refer to a flag of type (b) rather than type (c).
Anon. 21/11/13