‘Knock on knuckles’ for BBC will prevent omission of Northern Ireland flag: Kate Hoey
In the report on Friday evening, the name of the country was displayed without the flag, unlike the reports on the teams from England, Scotland and Wales just seconds earlier.
The omission led to a number of people expressing concern on social media.
One of the first was Baroness Hoey, who tweeted: “What is @BBCNews trying to do. At the Platinum [jubilee] concert at Buckingham Palace they put up the Irish flag for Northern Ireland and now they have no flag.”
Following complaints, a spokesperson for the BBC told the News Letter: “We will be using the flag used by the Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games team and apologise for its omission on this occasion.”
Although the flag is used by Northern Ireland football teams and professional golfers, as well as at the Commonwealth Games, it is viewed by many nationalists as representative of the unionist community only.
The debate continued on Monday when one caller to the BBC’s Nolan radio show – Malachy from Belfast – describing the Ulster Banner as “sectarian, anti-Irish banner,” and added: “If any of my children were ever to play a sport, and represent Northern Ireland... I would rather they had limbs removed than play under that flag”.
However, on the same programme, nationalist commentator Chris Donnelly described the row as “much ado about nothing”.
He said almost half of Northern Ireland would not identify with the Ulster Banner, but added: “There is no official flag for this particular region. Part of our own history is that we don’t have a shared flag, but the Ulster Banner does get used by specific sporting organisations. That’s their prerogative.
“But the nature of this place is that many people wouldn’t identify with that flag but, nevertheless, I don’t think people would be less minded to wish athletes from here well because of the choice of flag”.
The initial BBC omission was made after Ards para-swimmer Barry McClements collected bronze in the men’s S9 100 metres backstroke.
Baroness Hoey said it was important to raise the issue “because I think it means it will be used from now on when, hopefully, we get another of many successes” at the Games.
“The Commonwealth team is made up of people from all backgrounds, all religions, all cultures and we should be very proud of what they are achieving for what is a very small country.
“I think it was remiss of the BBC and I hope this sharp knock on the knuckles will mean that this couldn’t happen again,” she added.
In June, the BBC apologised after a flag error midway through the BBC1 broadcast of the open-air Queen’s Jubilee celebrations outside Buckingham Palace.
While a performer called Doc Brown was delivering a rap about the UK, the giant screen behind him showed an English flag, Scottish saltire, the red Welsh dragon ... and an Irish tricolour.
The following afternoon the BBC said: “The incorrect flag appeared in a brief montage during Doc Brown’s appearance last night.
“We apologise for the error and the sequence will be edited on iPlayer.”