As regular readers of my blog will know I have a family history that goes back to Donegal. Indeed one of my Great Grandfather's was a Grand Master in the Orange Order in that county pre-partition.
Therefore with my roots divided by the imaginary line across our island I naturally associate myself as Irish as much as anything. Because even though my roots are largely within Ulster, they are by in large from the part of Ulster that joined the 26 Counties of the Republic of Ireland.
Therefore the meaning of the Tricolour means something to me. The Orange quarter furthest away from the flag pole actually represents those Presbyterian farmers from Donegal who were relatives. It represents those Loyalist men and women who also signed the Ulster Covenant but were not kept within the United Kingdom. At the other edge of the flag is of course the green that represents Ireland and the nationalist movement and in the middle is white for peace.
Today yet again the Tricolour was burnt outside Belfast City Hall. As will all such burnings the so called 'loyalists' burn from the end furthest away from the pole. Little do they realise that in so doing they are burning away the legacy of those Protestant men and women who did not remain within the United Kingdom. They are burning away the legacy of my ancestors some of whose descendants still live in Donegal and other parts of the Republic.
They claim that the removal of the Union Flag is a chipping away at their Britishness. Well the burning away of the Orange third of the Tricolour is a disrespect to the Britishness of those Loyalists who were cast away in 1922. The burning of that flag and the symbolism of it is also a disregard of those of us proud of our roots which lie outside of Northern Ireland, who come from Loyalist backgrounds, but realise that we are Irish and British at the same time, through no fault of our own making.
Disrespecting a flag that actually goes out of the way to recognise your Orange brethren (if indeed you are Orange) is no respect of tradition or vexillology and the meaning behind it. The Irish Republic when creating their flag recognised that they were a divided community. Yet the Loyalist of Belfast cannot recognise the same here, even though the flag will now be flown to mark all the birthdays of the senior Royals and important days in the Queen's reign. Surely more honouring to the crown to notice these events as special than the current 365 day flying of flags that end up getting frayed as a result.