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3 June 1922: James Craig Advocates Flying the Flag

Read Stephen O’Neill’s essay on ‘he Iconography of Partition’ on Century Ireland.

Ireland 1922, edited by Darragh Gannon and Fearghal McGarry, features 50 essays from leading international scholars that explore a turning point in history, one whose legacy remains controversial a century on. Building on their own expertise, and on the wealth of recent scholarship provoked by the Decade of Centenaries, each contributor focuses on one event that illuminates a key aspect of revolutionary Ireland, demonstrating how the events of this year would shape the new states established in 1922. Together, these essays explore many of the key issues and debates of a year that transformed Ireland.

In collaboration with Century Ireland, we are making the 50 essays freely available online. Today’s essay is by Stephen O’Neill and it covers an interview published in The People on 3 June 1922, in which James Craig advocates flying the Union Jack in Belfast:

On touring Belfast in the turbulent June of 1922, an English visitor to the city suggested to James Craig that there was ‘just a little too much of the Union Jack in view in Belfast at the present moment to be healthy’. Unsurprisingly Craig was not impressed. Relaying this tale in an extended interview with the British tabloid The People, published on 3 June, the leader of northern unionism described the Union Jack as a symbol of loyalty that was being taken for granted by the English public, ‘an outward and visible sign of our loyalty to the Throne and of our pride in Empire Citizenship’. This image of Belfast proudly demonstrating its attachment to the union was, for Craig, a crucial reminder of unionist loyalty in a period of grave anxiety. In particular, this display of fidelity was a reminder of what he saw as their ‘duty as loyal representatives of a loyal people to say that we would have nothing more to do with the Boundary Commission’. Writing in the wake of the Better Government of Ireland Act (1920) and the Anglo-Irish Treaty (1921), Craig’s plea to the British public was reflective of the deep insecurity about territory that then beleaguered the operations of his government. Continue reading (you will be redirected to the website of Century Ireland)

Ireland 1922, edited by Darragh Gannon and Fearghal McGarry, is published by the Royal Irish Academy with support from the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media under the Decade of Centenaries 2012-2023 programme.


Ireland 1922