Offenders may soon face five years in prison for displaying one of these flags in a provocative manner in Scotland.
A document issued to Scottish police officers has revealed that a list of flags it may be deemed a criminal offense to fly within the country includes the Irish tricolor flag.
An official Police Scotland list of flags that are potentially illegal in the country if they are displayed “in a provocative manner” was revealed through Freedom of Information by The Herald Scotland and includes the flag of Leinster, the four provinces flag, the Orange Order flag, and the Ulster 'Red Hand' banner, as well as the national flags of Catalonia, Israel and Palestine.
“Whilst the display of the following flags is not an offense, in itself, if flown or displayed in a provocative manner or altered, constitute a common law Breach of the Peace or an offense under Section 38 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2000,” the police document states.
“If they are altered to contain a reference to a proscribed organization they may constitute an offense under Section 13 of the Terrorism Act 2000.
Read more: Do you know the story behind the Irish flag?
Revealed: the police list of flags that could be criminal offence to fly in Scotland https://t.co/KACE03FJbg— The Evening Times (@TheEveningTimes) September 23, 2018
“Irrespective of the above, the possession of these flags within a football ground may constitute a breach of ground regulations. As such, if these flags are seen, the stadium control room should be contacted; they will liaise with the football club and advise officers as to the appropriate course of action.”
If convicted for displaying one of these flags, offenders could face up to five years in prison.
While some of the flags on the list contain sectarian symbols often displayed by republican and loyalist groups during parades or used within Scottish football stadiums, others are the flags of countries and territories.
Read more: The Irish tricolor turns 170 years old today
“I think the idea that flying the flag of any country could be construed as a criminal offense is a step too far,” human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar told The Herald.
“The danger of such guidelines is that they leave too many grey areas. Which means that it could take one person in a crowd of several thousand to be offended by the flying of a Catalan flag to press the button for an arrest.
“As a defense lawyer I appreciate circumstances which could give rise to a public order offense, however, my concern is [the] impact on freedom of expression and the right to identify with struggles for freedom internationally – surely that should not be made a crime in a democracy?”
Do you think the potential criminal offense of flying the Irish flag is a step too far? Let us know in the comments section, below.