Paddy Barnes, the gold medalist boxer who caused a Twitter storm over “Danny Boy” being played at the Commonwealth Games, has called for a new flag and national song to be devised for Northern Ireland.
He said it’s time Northern Ireland “had a proper flag and a proper national anthem.”
Barnes, from north Belfast, publicly distanced himself from the Commonwealth Games' actions when the ballad, greatly associated with the Irish community, “Danny Boy” was played as his country’s national anthem after his big win.
Barnes stood on the podium saying “That’s not my anthem.”
He wrote on Twitter:
So I said that's not my anthem, so who cares, it's not NI hasn't got one educate yourselves, football is GSTQ so make your minds up!— Paddy Barnes (@paddyb_ireland) August 2, 2014
His Twitter remarks started an online row to which he responded:
Im a sportsman I couldn't care about anything else, I'm Irish, doesn't matter if I'm Catholic or Protestant!— Paddy Barnes (@paddyb_ireland) August 2, 2014
I won that medal for everyone that supports me, Catholics and Protestants alike, I don't care what your religion is! Some clowns out there!— Paddy Barnes (@paddyb_ireland) August 2, 2014
He later explained that these comments had been in response to another boxer’s question who had asked why his national anthem had not been played.
He told the Belfast Telegraph, “Let’s be honest, not only is it not my anthem but it is nobody’s anthem because Northern Ireland hasn’t got a national anthem. I think it’s time we had a proper flag and a proper national anthem.”
Barnes ordinarily boxes for Ireland in major international competitions and would normally hear the Irish national anthem being played when he wins medals.
In 2013 United States Envoy Richard Haass and Professor Meghan O'Sullivan chaired all party talks in Northern Ireland on the issue of flags, parades and the legacy of 'the Troubles.' One of his proposals was a new flag for Northern Ireland. This was rejected.
He had asked the parties, “What might a process to design and validate a new Northern Ireland flag look like? What role might such a flag play in civic life?”
Do you think Northern Ireland should have its own flag and anthem? Comment below.