Abusive protestors ‘do not understand the meaning of the Irish flag’, the Leas-Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann has said.
In recent months, the tricolour has been flown by groups of people angry at the housing of refugees and asylum seekers in their communities.
Some individuals at these protests have threatened violence and today Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he was upset to see the flag “being weaponised by a small minority.”
“Our flag, like our foreign policy, does not belong to any one section of Irish society,” Mr Varadkar said.
“It belongs to all of us; it carries our values and aspirations, our hopes and dreams, it represents the very best of us as a nation.
“Our flag deserves better.”
Speaking to The Hard Shoulder, Leas-Cathaoirleach Mark Daly said he did not think those who abuse others while flying the flag knew much about its history.
“I suppose they do not understand the meaning of the flag,” he said.
“If they understood the meaning of the flag, it’s about inclusion - not exclusion.
“People have done it in the past [used it to exclude] and they’ll do it in the future and that’s why it needs to be relentless in getting the message across in schools, on shows like this to make sure that people understand that the flag has always been about inclusion - and not exclusion.
“And about communities on this island coming together and understanding each other and that’s why the flag has to be protected.”
“Every year, a supplement is produced by the Irish Independent and has lesson plans including on unionism and loyalism is included in that which is designed by the History Teachers’ Association,” he said.
“So, people understand its [history] but what they also insist is that they would ask the schools to fly the flags of all the children of different backgrounds in the schools - as well as the Irish flag.”
The green in the Irish flag represents Ireland’s Catholic nationalist tradition, the orange Protestant unionism and white represents peace between the two communities.
Main image: An Irish Tricolour flies in Dublin, Ireland | Image: Jens Kalaene/DPA/PA Images