Flag of Northern Ireland

The official flag of Northern Ireland is the Union Flag of the United Kingdom.[ citation needed] From 1953 until 1973, the Ulster Banner (also known as the Ulster flag) was used by the Parliament of Northern Ireland; however, since its abolition use of the flag has been limited to representing Northern Ireland in certain sports, at the Commonwealth of Nations, at some local councils and at some other organisations and occasions. Despite this, the Ulster Banner is still commonly seen and referred to as the flag of Northern Ireland, especially by those from the unionist and loyalist communities.

The Saint Patrick's Saltire represents Northern Ireland indirectly as Ireland in the Union Jack. It is sometimes flown during Saint Patrick's Day parades in Northern Ireland, [2] and is used to represent Northern Ireland during some royal events. [3]

In recent years, there have been calls for a new, neutral flag for Northern Ireland. [4] [5]

Flag of the Government of Northern Ireland (1924–1973)

The Ulster Banner, also known as the " Red Hand Flag" or the "Ulster Flag" (not to be confused with the provincial Flag of Ulster), was the flag that was granted a royal warrant for use to the Government of Northern Ireland in 1924. In common with other British flags, any civic status of the flag was not defined in law. [6]

The Government of Northern Ireland was granted arms (the Coat of arms of Northern Ireland) by Royal Warrant and had the right to display these arms on a flag or banner. This right was exercised for the Coronation in 1953 when the banner was flown for the first time over Parliament Buildings in honour of the Queen's visit. Also during the Queen's visit, on July 1, 1953, the Minister for Home Affairs announced that, while the Union flag was the only standard officially recognised, those who wished to have a distinctive Ulster symbol might use the banner. [7] When the Parliament of Northern Ireland was dissolved by the British government under the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973, the flag ceased to be used by a body with a royal warrant but remains the only flag to date which represents Northern Ireland at international level in sport. [6]

Since the Northern Ireland government and parliament were abolished in 1972, use of the Ulster Banner among loyalists has increased. [8] [9]

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