Why doesn’t Northern Ireland have a flag?

England, Wales, Scotland, and the Isle of Man all have their own flags but it seems that Northern Ireland uses the Union Flag. Is there a reason for this or is it a point of contention for some?

This 5-minute video by CGP Grey directly answers your question. “No Flag Northern Ireland”. Short answer, yes, it’s a huge point of contention.

I suppose the answer lies in history: Northern Ireland had limited home rule, with its own Parliament and government, until 1973, when it was abolished and the responsibilities for running Northern Ireland were assumed by Westminster directly. This pre-1973 regime had an official Northern Irish flag, which was abolished together with it.

When Northern Ireland got autonomy back in 1998, in the form of the current “devolution” regime, the flag wasn’t reinstated (nor was a new one designed). I suppose that was because the 1998 regime was the result of a carefully calibrated (and painfully achieved) compromise, and the British government didn’t want to risk upsetting that compromise by introducing a symbol that could become controversial.

In sports, however, where Northern Ireland is separately represented (which is a complicated matter in itself - in football it plays on its own, in the Olympics it’s part of the British team, in Rugby it’s part of the Irish team), the pre-1973 flag is widely used as a symbol for the Northern Irish team.

Why is it not this flag as represented on the Union Jack?

The Union Flag, or Union Jack, is the national flag of the United Kingdom.
It is so called because it combines the crosses of the three countries united under one Sovereign - the kingdoms of England and Wales, of Scotland and of Ireland (although since 1921 only Northern Ireland has been part of the United Kingdom).
The flag consists of three heraldic crosses.
snip
The cross saltire of St Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, is a diagonal red cross on a white ground.

It is very contentious.

It’s not at all clear that the « Cross of St Patrick » really had any significance as a flag in Ireland.

Yes, which why why the earlier Union flag for a prior Union used the 1707-1801 flag defaced with an Irish harp.

Is the harp a republican symbol?

Not necessarily. The Royal Ulster Constabulary, the worst enemy of the IRA, used a harp symbol.

But a Cross of St Patrick would have had NI Protestants foaming at mouth.

I adore one of the comments:

Loyalists are strange. We put a McDonalds flag up at the entrance of our estate… So they put up a Burger King one.

There’s even a Dope-like explanation as the first reply:

the north Antrim Scot-Irish MacDonald clan fought against the plantation people, maybe someone knew their medieval history and got offended.

And the author then confirms they do live in north Antrim.

I don’t think the order is backwards but: the Nationalists started to use Palestine symbolism as a solidarity thing. The Unionists then adopted Israel symbols in response.