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Dublin Live
Dublin Live
Sarah Barrett

RTE Liveline hears neighbours row over 'wreck and ruin' of Irish flag outside woman's window

A woman received a letter of complaint from a resident in her housing estate complaining about the condition of the Ireland flag hanging out her window.

Liveline caller Niamh told Joe Duffy that she received the letter by post complaining about the flag flying outside her house. Niamh said: “The letter explains how we have let our flag go to wreck and ruin, and how shameful we should be.

“We have a tri-colour hanging out one of the bedroom windows, we’ve always done it, all of my family always have. It’s from one of the residents, and they say we should be ashamed of ourselves.”

Joe read out the letter on air: “As an Irish national and a proud citizen of our country, I am appalled by the state of disrepair and discoloration to which you have allowed our national flag and colours deteriorate." Niamh shared that she hangs the flag from her window because her great grandfather fought in the Easter rebellion and Easter Rebellion.

Read more: Gardai investigating household name GAA star over claims of alleged €1m fraud

Stephen Mulvey was a GAA player and revolutionary, and made his debut on the inter-county scene as a member of the Dublin senior team during the 1902 championship. Niamh told Joe Duffy: “Well, my great grandfather Stephen Mulvey was one of the Irish guys in Bray, he put all the communications from Bray into Dublin, he presented himself and was sent to the Dublin Bread company, the GPO, he received a flesh wound in his leg.”

“We do it in honour of him, he’s our family hero, we’re proud of him.” As the political situation in Ireland became more militant, Mulvey joined the Irish Volunteers shortly after their establishment in 1913.

During the 1916 Easter Rising he walked from his home in Bray to Dublin city centre to take part in the insurrection. Joe told Niamh the Department of Defence had a protocol on how the Irish tricolour flag should be displayed.

“The national flag should be rectangular, vertically disposed, green, white, and orange,” he said. “No flag or pennant should be flown above the National Flag.”

The Irish Defence forces state that:“The National Flag should not be draped on cars, trains, boats or other modes of transport and it should not be carried flat, but should be always carried aloft and free, except when used to drape a coffin, on such an occasion, the green must be at the head of the coffin” Niamh said: “I recently heard that you have to apply for permission for a flag pole, I put out a new flag, I'll look up the regulations.”

“The bunting was fine, there was no state in it, it was maybe twenty smaller flags along the fleece.” Joe read: “I object to the flying of our national flag and the bunting.”

Another caller Miles Kavanagh of Kilkenny City who is a flag enthusiast told Joe: ”Oh Joe, listen you'd want to wait until the girls go for the world cup, you’ll see so many Irish flags on the roof, you’ll be mesmerised, I’ll have the whole house green, white, and gold. People rejected my estate flag of Mississippi with Elvis in the middle of it."

Mile's said: “They come from all over Ireland and the world to see our flags. I took down the Elvis flag, it broke my heart.”

“People send me flags from all over the world. People objected to the Australian flag I had up too because of the British commonwealth on it.”

“I have so many Irish flags, the whole house, including the roof. Everywhere.” Another caller James didn’t share the same opinion and shared how serious he thought it was, James told Liveline: “I’m surprised at that lady who's flying the national flag, it can only be flown between sunrise and sunset, I got that info from a serving soldier.”

“I’ve never flown a national flag. When you see people at football matches with the flag draped around them, with all sorts of slogans for soccer, it’s a lack of respect for the flag, you’ll see them regularly at international matches at the Aviva, and for rugby.”

Defence forces member Paul Clarke called and said clergymen were weary of the national flag on coffins and told Niamh she should be using a flag pole to look ‘reasonable’. He said: “We’re celebrating the 175th anniversary of the tri-colour next month in Waterford.”

Speaking on what he thought of Niamh hanging the flag, Paul said: “It would be better if the flag was on a pole. Nobody respects and shows off, I would love to talk about the flags on coffins, but that’s a whole other gamble.”

“I won’t mention anyone in particular, but in recent years, we’ve been refused permission to drape the coffin of a veteran, it’s inscribed in the defence forces regulations that a member having served a number of years, is entitled to supersede the clerics. Only recently we had a Congo Cyprus veteran, and Sergeant Major, but that is only isolated cases.”

“Some priests will not allow it. In 2010, the bishops allowed us to do that, but priests will still say no this is my parish, I’ve sent letters to the conference secretary, having served overseas, during the troubles, when we go overseas they call us ambassadorial, we carry the flag everywhere, yet we come up against this at times.”

Paul said that it was not the case that the flag was to be flown between sunset and sunrise, and advised that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar had changed it. Joe asked him: “Are you aware that some Irish soldiers, and ex-soldiers who have served in Lebanon are having trouble getting US visas?”

Paul commented saying, “That’s right, because the underlying problem is that there is a feeling of a familiarity with the factions Joe, that’s the best way I can describe it without identifying anyone, that they may be sympathetic in the factions,

“I’ve done four tours in Lebanon, and one in Bosnia, when you’re in the area of operations, in a village, you help everyone in that village as best you can, you become nearly family, we’ve done an awful lot in the orphanage in Tebnine, the lads serving still do it, without the idealism and the relations, to me it’s a step to far, we travel to the states as a veteran group.”

The final caller, Paula Murray, said: “I think the issue in the letter was the condition of the flag and not flying it, from what I gathered it wasn’t in good condition.” Joe said: “You’ll see it at all the anti-refugee demos, they're all draped in the tri-colour,” to which Niamh responded: “The flag has been replaced regularly, I might put an extra flag up when Katie Taylor plays, it doesn’t represent anything bad."

Joe asked Niamh what she thought of the protesters in the East Wall and Ballymun demonstrations expropriating the flag. Niamh responded: “I think it’s wrong, it should be something to be proud of.”

Joe then gave Niamh two tickets for her birthday to Michael Buble as it was her birthday on Valentines Day. Liveline is broadcast on RTE Radio 1 each weekday afternoon between 1.45pm and 3pm.

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