News Archive


Flags survey confirms territory still being marked out in Northern Ireland (full report in PDF format)

A survey of flags being flown on main roads in Northern Ireland conducted by Queen's University, confirms that flags are still being used to mark out territory but progress on the flags and emblems issue has been made.

The Flags Monitoring Project 2006 undertaken by the Institute of Irish Studies at Queen's and funded by the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister, set out to see how much people took responsibility for flags and other emblems displayed over the summer months and how many flags were then left.

Two significant surveys were undertaken in 2006, one at the start of July, the second in mid-September during the period covering the Loyal Order marching season and the 25th Anniversary of the Hunger Strikes. Results show that when displays were placed in areas people took responsibility for, such as on private houses or on Orange Halls and around Orange Arches, then the flags and bunting were nearly always taken down. However, there were large numbers of flags left flying at the end of September on major road routes all over Northern Ireland. By far the greatest number of flags was displayed on lampposts and at the end of the summer 2499 flags and emblems remained on display.

Dr Dominic Bryan at the Institute of Irish Studies said: "We are aware that there has been much work undertaken in communities to try and reduce the flying of flags to periods in which commemorations and celebrations are taking place. These surveys demonstrate that a large number of flags are being left on lampposts to apparently mark territories. At the same time there is increasing evidence that such marking of territories is economically detrimental to the affected area.

"There is also evidence of a reduction in the flying of paramilitary flags in recent years. The initial survey in July 2006 recorded only 194 flags at main roads but just 17% of these came down by mid September".

For further information please contact: Brendan Heaney, Communications Office Tel: 028 9097 5320 or Dominic Bryan 028 9097 3386.

Notes for Editors:

Interviews with Dr Bryan can be arranged through the Communications Office.

The Government's policy of a Shared Future sets as one of its major aims 'freeing the public realm from threat, aggression and intimidation while allowing for legitimate expression of cultural expression, creating safe and shared space for meeting, sharing, playing, working and living'.

Since 2005 the PSNI have led a multi-agency joint-protocol in relation to the display of flags which calls for the removal of flags and emblems from arterial routes, town centres and areas such as interfaces, schools, hospitals and places of worship. This is to be done, as much as possible, with the support of communities.

The full report in PDF format can be viewed at


'Flags and Emblems' report published

Click here for the full text of the report.

A new report, from the Institute of Irish Studies at Queen's University Belfast explores controversies surrounding flags and emblems in Northern Ireland. It puts forward as its key finding that by far the best way of resolving controversy surrounding the flying of flags is to examine the context within which conflicts arise and, if necessary, to transform that context..

In the document the report authors, Dr Dominic Bryan, Director of the Institute of Irish Studies and Research Fellow Dr Gordon Gillespie, recognise the legitimacy of the need to express cultural identity through the display of flags in celebration and commemoration, but also warn that intimidation and the marking of territory is a significant problem in Northern Ireland.

Dr Bryan said: “The report, Transforming Conflict: Flags and Emblems, highlights imaginative projects where local communities have worked with agencies to clean up their environments and transform the context in which displays of flags take place. Removal of flags is best undertaken as a collaborative project involving local representatives and agencies.”

The report also points to evidence that the majority of people in Northern Ireland believe paramilitary flags should be removed.

“There remain frequent examples of displays of flags and emblems that are intimidating and require effective policing. The existence of sectarian territory costs money since it frequently demands duplication of services and makes economic development more problematic,” Dr Bryan added.

The report offers a range of policy options including:

  • the need for improved co-ordination in multi-agency work;
  • the need for continued funding for organisations engaged in transforming the environment and encouraging affirmative, non-threatening, displays of identity;
  • the use of dedicated fieldworkers to co-ordinate conflict transformation;
  • greater enforcement of existing legislation by the PSNI.

The authors also suggest that agreed protocols are useful developments in managing displays of flags. A protocol might indicate whether particular areas should be kept free from flags and whether the flying of flags should be restricted to designated times of the year.

If new legislation was to be considered it would need to address the role of specific agencies.

Dr Bryan commented: “While it can be difficult to distinguish an act of celebration and commemoration from one of intimidation and territory marking it should be possible to develop a broadly agreed set of principles through which displays of flags might take place.

“By improving the environment in local areas the economic regeneration of that area can also be progressed.

“In particular there is a need for agencies such as the Roads Service, the NI Housing Executive, District Councils and the PSNI to develop clear policies, improve co-ordination with each other and develop protocols for dealing with contentious displays of flags as well as other displays of emblems.”

Dr Bryan also points out that there remain numerous examples of displays of flags used to ntimidate as well as flags left on lampposts to deteriorate.

The report also highlights continuing debate surrounding the flying of flags on local council buildings. It lays out the current policy in all Northern Irelands District Councils and compares them with councils in the Republic and the rest of the UK. It also explores recent legal advice on the issue.

The research was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council under the Devolution Programme ( and the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister ( as part of the new Shared Future strategy.

Belfast City Hall

Belfast City Hall Centenary Publication, 2006

Dr Gillian McIntosh, Research Fellow of the Institute of Irish Studies was commissioned by Belfast City Council in 2004 to write a history of Belfast City Hall to commemorate its centenary in 2006. The book, 'Belfast City Hall. One hundred years’ (Blackstaff Press, 2006), will be launched in March 2006.

Dr McIntosh researches aspects of culture, politics and literature in Northern Ireland in the twentieth century. She has a particular interest in theories of ritual, symbolism, and commemoration.


The International Association for the Study of Irish Literatures (IASIL) Conference

IASIL Sydney - Thursday 20 July to Sunday 23 July 2006 inclusive

IASIL 2006 - First Call for Papers. Reply to

Proposals are warmly invited on the general conference theme: exploring 'intertextuality' in all its forms in Irish literature and culture. Please submit a title and 200 word abstract to by 15th December, 2005. Papers should not exceed 20 minutes duration.

Anyone delivering a paper at the 2006 IASIL conference must be an IASIL member for 2006.

Further information is available on the IASIL website.


AHRC sponsored Crosscurrents Conference, 7-9 April 2006

The 5th Crosscurrents conference for postgraduate students and doctoral fellows takes place at The Institute of Irish Studies, Queen's University Belfast from 7th-9th April, 2006. The keynote speaker will be Cairns Craig giving an address entitled 'Another "Other": The Significance of Irish-Scottish Studies'. If any Queen's staff or students wish to attend please contact Caroline Magennis:

This conference is fully sponsored by the AHRC and selected essays are published every two years.

The disciplines covered in this conference are Literature, Linguistics, History, Film Studies and the Visual Arts, and Celtic Studies. Papers will be given on a range of topics, including: Identities - The Politics of the Diaspora - Spatial Tensions - The Literatures of Ireland and Scotland - Irish/Scottish Studies in the New Millennium - Ireland/Scotland in Theory - The Postmodern Construction of the Nation.

There is no conference fee and delegates will have accommodation in Belfast for the duration of the conference.

Proceedings of the first two conferences are available from Cló Ollscoil na Banríona (Queen's University Press). The proceedings for the last two conferences is also forthcoming from this press.


St Patrick’s Day Conference - 24-25 March, 2006

Paraders, Performers and Promoters

  • “Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day” – or are they?
  • What do you do on March 17th?
  • Is Irish identity something which can be adopted, brokered and consumed?
  • How is St. Patrick’s Day celebrated, commemorated, contested?

This unique event is a subsidized Conference (£6), an exhibition and a debate about St. Patrick’s Day. We seek to examine and consider the varieties and complexities of St. Patrick’s Day in a modern world. We therefore welcome proposals from academics studying St. Patrick’s Day, its history and its evolution; policy makers shaping St. Patrick’s Day; promoters engaging with the organization of public events such as St. Patrick’s Day; and paraders and protesters on the streets, at the pickets and in the pubs on St. Patrick’s Day.

Guest speaker – Dr Michael Cronin, Boston College
Guest debate – ‘Imagining an ideal St. Patrick’s Day’ featuring parade organizers and politicians
Special Exhibition – ‘Consuming St. Patrick’s Day’
Special Meeting – Annual General Meeting of the Anthropology Association of Ireland

Attendance at Conference:
Please e-mail Catherine Boone if you would like to attend at: The venue will be Queen's University Belfast and the room number will be confirmed nearer the date.

Call for papers:
Please send abstracts of not more than 300 words to the conference organizers by 15th January 2006. Inquiries and sponsorship welcome to the following contacts:

Dr Jonathan Skinner, Dr. Dominic Bryan & Dr John Nagle
School of History and Anthropology
The Queen’s University Belfast
+44 (0) 28 9197 3700


Museums in their Place - Annual Conference, 24-26 Feb, 2006

This is the premier event in the Irish museum calendar, bringing together an outstanding collection of international and Irish speakers to address themes of crucial importance to everyone involved in museums and heritage. Early booking is recommended.

Further details available from:
Irish Museums Association
Pearse Museum
St. Enda's Park
Dublin 16
Tel: 00 353 (0) 87-2790518.   ROI 087 2790518.


Seminar and Book launch - 02/02/2006

5-6 pm Seminar Professor R.J. Morris, Civil Society and the history of 19th century Belfast

6 pm Book launch "Ireland and Scotland Order and Disorder, 1600-2000" R.J. Morris and Liam Kennedy (Editors).

Everyone is welcome to attend the above events which take place at the Institute of Irish Studies, 53-67 University Road, Belfast, BT7 1NF. Tel the Secretary for further details at: 028 9097 3386.

Background Information on "Ireland and Scotland Order and Disorder, 1600-2000"

Two countries whose histories were deeply influenced by relationships with a neighbouring metropolitan power are compared along their economic, social and cultural dimensions. Contrasting attitudes to discipline and order were evident in matters of demography (why did Scottish tenants leave quietly when the Irish did not?). Some of the most innovative chapters involve the relationship of historical understanding to the present, as exemplified in the minds of Unionist politicians searching for a new identity or in the minds of of the creators of the wall murals in nationalist and unionist areas of Belfast.


Memory Day: memory and forgetting in Irish Culture

About Memory Day
On Thursday, May 19th, the Institute of Irish Studies will hold a unique collaborative research colloquy to examine the creative tensions between memory and forgetting within Irish culture.
Memory has been the fascination of many: philosophers, psychologists, historians, neurologists and poets. As mother to the muses, Mnemosyne made possible all else – the sacred, the historical, the scientific, the artistic; even the snaking river of forgetfulness, Lethe, lay within her land. The centrality of memory and its constant significance to human culture requires an interdisciplinary consideration rarely provided by contemporary academic institutions.
Memory allows us to construct and reconstruct the past, to represent it in endless ways; it also creates a space in which to contest appropriations, interpretations and mythologizing tendencies. If remembrance is a major device for the construction of culture, forgetting is an equally significant concept in a space in which the past is often a painful, too tangible presence. Memory and forgetting are informed by numerous conditions – what individuals remember or forget varies: from urban to rural settings, from region to region, from generation to generation. And these individual memories are subsumed into or struggle against larger, regional or national narratives that memory perpetually reconstructs. Ireland has struggled with questions of personal and national identity in the face of colonial occupation and its fallouts; in this context, memory has become an issue of powerful dimensions that determines the questions we ask, the research we do, the lessons we teach, and the policies we shape. However, while institutional boundaries remain in place, researchers rarely benefit from their colleagues’ insights. The gathering of senior researchers at Queen’s University as well as invited guests whose work touches on memory allows for departure from established patterns, and is long overdue. How are collective memories transmitted between generations? Does physiological and neurological evidence as to the function of individual memory have a place in the consideration of cultural, collective memory? Why do particular memory issues – nostalgia, amnesia and trauma, for example – appear more likely to occur in societies like those in Ireland that have been or perceive themselves to be under threat? How have the creative arts both critically engaged with the past and abandoned the constraints of tradition in response to present-day demands? What are the implications of scientific work on cognition for humanities work on memory? And what, in turn, can the work of historians and anthropologists contribute to science’s consideration of memory? That such questions are posed is important to a larger understanding of the ways in which memory functions in culture; that the attempts at answering them allow for the exchange of cutting edge research across disciplines is vital.
‘Memory Day’ thus aims to produce dialogue between leading researchers in many fields and disciplines whose work concerns memory in some capacity. Researchers will meet for a series of three round-table discussions, each chaired by an academic whose work represents a particular approach to memory studies. In order to ensure dialogue and productive discussion, invited speakers will present a summary of their work and then open the floor to questions, comments and exchanges.

A timetable of the day’s events is as follows:

9.30-10.00 Coffee / Tea
10.00-11.30 Session 1
Leader: Professor Harvey Whitehouse, Institute for Cognition and Culture, QUB
11.30-12.00 Coffee / Tea
12.00-1.30 Session 2
Leader: Professor John Wilson Foster, Leverhulme Visiting Professor, Academy for Irish Cultural Heritages, UU (Magee)
1.30-2.30 Lunch, Institute of Irish Studies, QUB
2.30-4.00 Session 3
Leader: Dr Ciarán O'Kelly, Assistant Director, Institute of Governance, QUB
4.30-5.30 Final Colloquy / Closing Discussion: The Future of Memory Studies
Leader: Dr Dominic Bryan, Director, Institute of Irish Studies, QUB
 6.00 Book Launch of The Yellow Nib, Reception
Reading: Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and Ciaran Carson. See below for further details.

For those whose attendance is confirmed, we would encourage each of you to submit, via e-mail in advance of the colloquy, a one paragraph description of your work and its relation to issues of memory; these, and contact details for participants, will be distributed on Memory Day to encourage and facilitate future work and research.

Contact Details
If you would like to attend, please contact Dr Gillian McIntosh at


Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry and Institute of Irish Studies Book launch
Blackstaff Press in association with the Institute of Irish Studies and the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry invite you to a reception to celebrate the publication of 'The Yellow Nib', the literary journal of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry, edited by Ciaran Carson. Ciaran Carson, Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill and friends will give readings at the launch which is to be held at 6pm on Thursday 19 May, 2005 at the Institute of Irish Studies, 53-67 University Road, Belfast BT7 1NN.

RSVP Abigail Vint, Blackstaff Press.
Tel: 028 9073 0113. E-mail:


Book Launch, 21 October 2005

The MacGeough Bond family of the Argory, Co. Armagh, is the subject of a new book due to be launched at Queen’s. The book, published by Four Courts Press as part of the Maynooth Local History Series, is based on research carried out for a Master’s degree at the Institute of Irish Studies here at Queen’s. The author, Olwen Purdue, took as her subject the challenges faced by this particular gentry family from 1880 through to the mid-twentieth century, placing it in the context of the wider challenge to the ‘big house’ in the north of Ireland. The Argory, now a National Trust property, was one of the few houses to survive in that part of Ulster.

Property Manager for the Argory, Derek Forshaw, will speak at the launch which will take place in the Bookshop at Queen’s at 5 pm on Friday 21st October. All welcome.


New book launched by Palgrave Macmillan: From Civil Rights to Armalites

This book traces and analyses the escalation of conflict in Northern Ireland from the first civil rights marches to the verge of full-scale civil war in 1972, focusing on the city of Derry. It explains how a peaceful civil rights campaign gave way to increasing violence, how the IRA became a major political force and how the British army became a major party to the conflict. It provides the essential context for understanding the events of Bloody Sunday and a new chapter brings significant new material to the public debate around the Bloody Sunday Inquiry. Published By Palgrave Macmillan priced at £18.99.