Flag and anthem ‘up for discussion’ in unity talks

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Members of the Dublin parliament have suggested that the tricolour’s status as the national flag could be reconsidered as part of efforts to secure a united Ireland.

A Sinn Féin TD and a senator were among those who conceded that the traditional Irish flag – the green and orange of which is meant to reflect Ireland’s Catholic and Protestant traditions – could form part of future negotiations around ending partition.

The Irish Sun surveyed TDs and Senators on what steps could potentially be taken to make a unified Ireland more accommodating to unionists.

Of the 63 cross-party representatives that responded, just a quarter would be unwilling to lose the tricolour and national anthem. More than 35 per cent were open to changing the national symbols, with one TD suggesting Danny Boy could be the new anthem to replace the existing Amhrán na bhFiann (Soldier’s Song).

There was stronger opposition to rejoining the Commonwealth, with roughly six in every ten parliamentarians ruling out rejoining the political association of 54 member states that succeeded the British Empire.

Sinn Féin’s Kildare South TD Patricia Ryan rejected the prospect, saying: “The conversation needs to be about how to protect the rights of those who are British in a United Ireland, including the right to hold a British passport.”

While there was unanimous support among respondents for reunification of the island of Ireland, less than half suggested a date for a border poll -- a dual referendum on unity in both parts of Ireland -- before 2030.

Of Sinn Féin, 14 of its parliamentary party members were open to a border poll within four or five years, but four would not specify a date. Five Sinn Féin representatives completely ruled out giving up the tricolour or anthem if they were to become part of any negotiations.

Sinn Féin TD Padraig Mac Lochlainn said: “The Irish tricolour is a proud flag that represents peace between the Green and Orange traditions on this island and I will argue the case for it to remain. However, all of this will be up for discussion as part of the process of reunification.”

Echoing her party colleague, Senator Lynn Boylan added: “I think it symbolises the two communities and therefore my preference would be for them to remain... I think everything has to be open for discussion.”

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