Gerry Adams, the former President of Sinn Féin, says changes to key political symbols such as the Irish flag and the national anthem should be part of the agenda for any future discussions to reach an agreement about a united Ireland.

Adams made the comments in "Iniúchadh TG4 - Éire Aontaithe?" ("TG4 Investigates - United Ireland?") that will be broadcast on TG4 on Wednesday, May 29 at 9:30 pm.

The programme, presented by investigative journalist Kevin Magee, examines if calls for a referendum on Irish unity within the next decade are premature, and asks how a million unionists could be integrated into a united Ireland.

The hour-long documentary examines the issue of a United Ireland and the circumstances under which a referendum on Irish Unity would be called under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

Speaking in Irish, Adams says on the programme: “I am happy with the flag (Irish flag) as it is, but if people want to talk about it and put it on the table.

"Anyone can put any subject on the table and we will discuss it.”

Former SDLP Stormont Minister Bríd Rodgers said the Irish tricolour as the national flag of Ireland should be reviewed in the context of a united Ireland as it has negative connotations for unionists. 

Also speaking in Irish, Rodgers said: "Unionists are opposed to the Irish flag, because it was used by and associated with the IRA during the troubles.

"So, if it is a symbol of everything they hate, this probably needs to be looked at."

Bríd Rogers. (Courtesy TG4)

Bríd Rogers. (Courtesy TG4)

Asked about a potential replacement to the Irish national anthem Amhrán na bhFiann in any future united Ireland, Adams said it too should be a topic for negotiation.

“If people want another national anthem, then it’s on the table.

"People can't say that we are planning for the future and then say we can’t talk about it. That is not the way in which we are able to put the process together."

Galway West Fianna Fáil TD Éamon Ó Cuív told the programme he also believes flexibility would be needed on issues such as the national flag and anthem in any future negotiations about a united Ireland.

He said: “Most Irish nationalists hold the flag and the national anthem very close to their hearts.

"But how do we handle that - is there a third way, a fourth way, a fifth way to address it?

"I believe that there is, and that is the flexibility required for such discussions. This kind of issue (a united Ireland) is best left to discussion.”

Éamonn Ó Cuív. (Courtesy TG4)

Éamonn Ó Cuív. (Courtesy TG4)

Adams said he hopes to see a referendum on Irish Unity called within the next decade. But others told the programme said calls for a referendum within next decade are premature and divisive.

Belfast-born former Church of Ireland rector at Holy Trinity church in Killiney, Co Dublin, Gary Hastings, said talk of a referendum within the next 10 years is too soon as people still have memories of the suffering caused as a result of the troubles in Northern Ireland. 

‘‘The split that was between the two sides to the north, it became very, very wide. Well, that hasn't been remedied since. Maybe it's better than that time, but the bad things that both sides did, those people are still alive and still badly hurt. When those people are gone, when it's just history, you might be able to move on. But it will take time.” 

The programme also hears the views of the members of the East Belfast Protestant Boys’ flute band on the prospect of a referendum on Irish unity at some time in the future.

Band member John Keenan said: “I don’t think we should [have a referendum], and I don’t think we should be coerced into one. Northern Ireland is an integral part of the United Kingdom and I don’t think that should change in the future at all. I wouldn’t want to live in an Irish republic." 

“We’re British, we’re not Irish. I’m too engrained into British society and the British way of life, it’s in our blood.”

"Iniúchadh TG4 - Éire Aontaithe" will be shown as part of the Iniúchadh TG4 current affairs series on Wednesday, May 29 at 9:30 pm.

You can watch the trailer for "Iniúchadh TG4 - Éire Aontaithe" here: