Loyalists who objected strongly to this decision then began a set of protests that started out peacefully but eventually came into conflict with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI)
As a result there have now been over 200 arrests and another 500 are likely to be arrested for various offences. Like anything else in Northern Ireland this is a complex issue and one that has yet again divided both political and religious opinion.
Flags In Northern Ireland.As most will know Northern Ireland is a small country of only 1.7 million people who are divided by religion, culture and politics. The Unionist Protestant community see themselves as part of the UK whereas the Catholic Nationalist people would prefer to be a part of a United Ireland. Hence we have large divisions in beliefs and politics. A recent survey did show that there is a growing portion of Catholics who are fine with being part of the UK for economic and other reasons, but would prefer that Unionism is not the main driver behind that.
It makes for an interesting mix and flags have always been a very sensitive issue.
Irish Flag - Tricolour
Union Jack - UK Flag
There are three main flags as I have shown above. The Irish flag is the official flag of Ireland and represents the "Green" for Catholics, the "Orange" for protestants and the white is a symbol of peace between them.
The Union Jack is the flag of the UK and as Northern Ireland is part of the UK it is also the flag of Northern Ireland. However as many Catholics would prefer a United Ireland they would have more allegiance to the Irish flag.
Then of course just to confuse things a little more we have the Ulster Flag and even that is used differently by the two divisions. Protestants would talk a lot about being Ulster Protestants and they would use this flag a lot.
Ireland historically was divided into four realms or provinces known as Ulster, Munster, Leinster and Connaught. Ireland has 32 counties in total. In N.Ireland there are 6 and there are 26 in the Republic of Ireland. Ulster has 9 counties in it, he 6 in the north of Ireland and three others which are in the Republic of Ireland.