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The Union Jack over Leinster House? SF says it must be open to new ideas around symbolism

Pearse Doherty said he couldn’t see the day when the union flag would fly overhead, but said all views must be accomodated.

WILL THE UNION Jack ever fly over Leinster House in the scenario of a united Ireland? 

Sinn Féin’s finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty told RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta that he couldn’t see the day when that would happen, but added that a discussion was needed to accommodate those of a unionist tradition in a new Ireland.

“We need a conversation about symbolism, for the million people who identify as British and who believe deeply in their identity. In this new Ireland, it is important that those symbols are part of this new Ireland.

“This is not just a question for Sinn Féin, but other parties in the South [need to] come together to discuss this. What kind of united Ireland there will be…,” he said. 

A Q&A document for members from the party’s think-in – taking place in Cavan – discusses whether Ireland will have the same flag and national anthem if a united Ireland becomes a reality.

It states that symbolism is important, but that the party and society need to be “open to new ideas that cater for the two traditions on the island”.

It continues that issues around emblems and symbols shouldn’t “hold back unity”.

The party leader Mary Lou McDonald has made similar comments in the recent past, telling this website that she is open to discussions on Ireland rejoining the Commonwealth.

In an interview with TheJournal.ie, the Sinn Féin leader said there must be an open debate in order to encourage unionists to participate in a discussion about a united Ireland.

McDonald said she cannot call for an openness, and then censor voices before the debate has begun.

“You can hardly make that call and then say ‘we are not going to discuss any particular item’. And there are some people who think that rejoining the Commonwealth is a worthy proposition.

“I think those that hold that view need to put that view forward, and I think it needs to be looked at, and debated, and it needs to be discussed.

“It is not a proposition that I would be advancing – but I am me. This is not all about Sinn Féin. This is much bigger than us. The debate has to have the capacity to put everything on the table and then the business of debate and discussion in a reflective way, not a divisive way,” she said.

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