John Arnold: Tricolour is the best flag option

No flag other than the tricolour is better placed to symbolise an inclusive Ireland, according to veteran GAA official John Arnold.

John Arnold: Tricolour is the best flag option

The Bride Rovers man has read and listened as GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail said in November that the GAA should keep “an open mind” about its use of the tricolour and the national anthem at games.

Earlier this week, Tyrone manager Mickey Harte suggested the association could stop the practice of showing allegiance to both but only “when the time is right”.

However, Arnold sees little reason why the green, white and orange can’t be used as an emblem of unity into the future.

“He (Ó Fearghail) was on radio the Saturday after he came back from saying what he said on the All-Stars trip. I wouldn’t say he was rowing back but he was clarifying.

“I would have specific reservations about changing the flag. I’m all about reconciliation but in fairness to the man, Thomas Francis Meagher, who created it — what more conciliatory flag could we have? Who would have thought of something that would incorporate the Unionist tradition, the Nationalist tradition and peace?

“In his time, we were a long way away from partition. If I was around for another 60 years, I couldn’t think of another flag that would represent the whole nation of Ireland, two states in the one. Ireland, two traditions. In the future, somebody may come up with something but personally I couldn’t think of a better way of representing this country.

“We are a 32-county organisation. We have two civil states and if the time comes when there is consent and a 32-county state of Ireland I would think that would be the most acceptable flag going.

“Roughly speaking, if you were to take the unionist tradition of the whole of Ireland it might be 30%. Should we then have a 70% green and 30% orange flag? No. Equality is given to both traditions in the tricolour. We’re not saying one is bigger or better than the other. They are equal there with white, the symbol of peace, between them.

“We can’t forget our traditions, our Nationalist and Orange past. We can’t put the green and orange behind us and bring us some new fandangled flag to represent the new modern Ireland. We can’t deny our history.”

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