Ulster Banner

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This article is about the former flag of Northern Ireland. For the provincial flag of Ulster, see Flag of Ulster.
The Ulster Banner was the official flag of the former Government of Northern Ireland 1953 - 1972

The Ulster Banner,[1] also known as the Ulster flag,[2] or the Red Hand of Ulster flag[3] was the flag of the government of Northern Ireland between 1953 and 1972. Since that government was abolished in 1972, the flag has become a symbol of Ulster loyalism[4] and is not permitted to be flown from government buildings.[5] However, it is still used to some extent to represent Northern Ireland, notably in some sporting events.


Arms of the former government of Northern Ireland, 1922–1972
A variation of the Ulster Banner with the Union Flag in the canton

The flag is a heraldic banner taken from the coat of arms granted in 1924 which is based on the flag of England[6][7] and the flag of Ulster,[8] with the addition of a crown to symbolise the loyalty of Ulster unionists to the monarchy of the United Kingdom. As with the flag of Ulster it contains the Red Hand of Ulster at the centre. The six pointed star represents the six counties that make up Northern Ireland[citation needed]. The flag is also sometimes referred to as the "Red Hand Flag", "the Flag of Northern Ireland", the "Northern Ireland flag" or as the "Ulster Flag" (not to be confused with the provincial Flag of Ulster).


Use by the Government of Northern Ireland[edit]

In 1924, the Government of Northern Ireland was granted its own coat of arms by Royal Warrant and had the right to display these arms on a flag or banner. This right was exercised for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. From 1953 until 1972, the flag was used officially by the Government of Northern Ireland and also as a de facto civic flag for Northern Ireland. In 1972, the Government and Parliament of Northern Ireland were abolished by the Parliament of the United Kingdom under the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973.

Later use[edit]

Since the Government of Northern Ireland was abolished in 1972, the flag (and variations thereof) has continued to be used by loyalists and unionists. In 2004, Belfast City Council commissioned a study on the flying of flags which noted that the Ulster Banner continued to be flown, alongside the Union flag, by a number of local authorities in Northern Ireland. These include Ards Borough Council, Carrickfergus Borough Council and Castlereagh Borough Council.[9]

It is also used to represent Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games[10][11] and by FIFA to represent the Northern Ireland national football team.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Groom, Nick (2006). The Union Jack: the Story of the British Flag. Atlantic Books. p. 295. ISBN 978-1-84354-336-7. 
  2. ^ Lords Hansard text for 13 Jul 200613 July 2006 (pt 0947)
  3. ^ http://www.limavady.gov.uk/filestore/documents/good_relations/Web_Questionnaire.pdf
  4. ^ Flags used in Northern Ireland - CAIN Web Service (quote: "this particular flag of Northern Ireland is seen as staunchly Loyalist")
  5. ^ The Flags Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000
  6. ^ Northern Ireland (United Kingdom) at Flags of the World
  7. ^ CAIN: Symbols - Flags Used in Northern Ireland
  8. ^ Northern Ireland (United Kingdom)
  9. ^ http://www.belfastcity.gov.uk/equality/docs/FlyingOfUnionFlagEQIA.pdf[dead link]
  10. ^ Commonwealth Games Federation[dead link]
  11. ^ Telegraph[dead link]
  12. ^ Northern Ireland: Country information, FIFA.com