Give Northern Ireland an Official Flag
As well as the Union Flag (also known as the Union Jack) each of the constituent nations of the United Kingdom has its own flag – except for Northern Ireland that is. England has the red cross of St George on a white background; Scotland has the white saltire on a blue background; and Wales has a red dragon on a white and green background.
Historically the nationalist community of Northern Ireland has used the Irish tricolour. This is the flag of the Irish Republic and was designed with a nationalist green stripe, an orange stripe to represent the Ulster Protestants and a white stripe in the middle to represent peace between the two.
The Unionist community has preferred to use the flag of St George emblazoned with the red hand of Ulster and sometimes a Union Flag in the fly. This however is not the official flag of Northern Ireland despite its long use during the Unionist ascendancy in the province.
The Union Flag has a red saltire in it which was added to represent Ireland at the time of union between Great Britain and Ireland in 1800. It is usually considered to be the flag of St Patrick but some argue that it was the flag of the powerful Irish Fitzgerald family. It combined with the English and Scottish flags to make the Union Flag that is known the World over.
If Northern Ireland was to have a flag of its own it would have to be acceptable to both communities. I would suggest a flag design competition and a committee made up of representatives of both communities that could make a recommendation to Parliament and the Queen. The new South African flag was a product of such a design competition and cleverly combined the African Nationalist colours with the traditional South African Dutch-style flag.
In my view the time has come to find Northern Ireland a flag that both communities can be proud of and which can be used at sporting occasions and on official buildings. Despite recent setbacks, the peace process remains the most powerful driver in Northern Ireland politics. Maybe a new flag could be a small step to cement that process and reduce the use of more sectarian symbols.