Unity, flags and emblems

Sir, – Terry Pattison (Letters, August 24th) would like to see the harp in Newton Emerson's suggested flag (Opinion & Analysis, August 19th) played by a red hand. However, the harp is played by two hands, so this invites the question, if one hand is red, what should be the colour of the other hand?

Green would seem to provide a nice balancing colour. However, it is almost certain that there will be no consensus reached on such an important matter and so I suggest something between the red and the green would be considered. I propose both hands should be coloured amber, a warning for all parties to proceed with caution. – Yours, etc,




Co Mayo.

Sir, – In his letter of August 20th, Mick Casey makes the very sensible point that the adoption in Canada of the maple leaf design in 1965 resulted in Canada's flag gaining instant global recognition, and enhancing the country's identity. This could hardly be said for the flag that it replaced – the British union flag or an ensign bearing the union flag, versions of which were the flags of most of Britain's ex-colonies.

Ireland could achieve the same effect by replacing the current Tricolour with a unique, distinctively Irish design. A flag bearing an image of the Irish harp would be instantly recognisable as Irish, and would be unique in the world in being the only national flag featuring a musical instrument.

There is a sentimental attachment to the current Tricolour, but it is one of scores of tricolours used by countries around the world, and has zero recognition value. It is derivative, being a gift from the French republic in 1848.

Surely we can come up with our own home-grown iconography rather than imitating others! While the symbolism is admirable, who outside the Irish appreciate its significance?

The harp has been recognised as a symbol of Ireland for half a millennium. Its use reflected the perceived excellence, throughout Europe, of Irish harpers and harp music. Its use as a national flag should satisfy nationalists as it is already the device used as the seal of the President of Ireland. It should also be acceptable to unionists, as it was the province of Ulster that did most in the 18th and 19th centuries to preserve the music and practice of harping in Ireland. Unesco’s recent recognition of Irish harping as part of the “intangible cultural heritage of the world” is another argument in its favour. Additionally, the Irish harp is featured on the arms of the United Kingdom. To elevate it from its subordinate position there to a separate status would allow unionists to feel that they retained some connection to their old allegiance. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 12.

Sir, – I would envisage a green rectangle on either side with a white square in the middle, the square to contain a green shamrock.

As both Green and Orange are followers of St Patrick, surely all Irish people would be happy with such a flag. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – A united Ireland flag must embrace reality. Perhaps something like a pastel honey and mint-green backdrop supporting a vision of the Red Hand of Ulster plucking the golden Irish harp beneath which Cúchulainn and Queen Maeve lustily embrace on the shores of Carlingford, while, in the background, all Irish folk of notable historic importance are to be seen gazing admiringly at the happy couple. All are wearing straitjackets. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 24.