Yesterday the Irish national rugby team won the Six Nations tournament (England and Wales also had 4-1 records, but Ireland had the best points differential). One thing about the Irish team is that it is an all-island team; the Irish Rugby Football Union predates partition (1922), and somehow the IRFU never followed suit (unlike association football). As a consequence the team’s symbols require special treatment. As the home stadium is in Dublin, the Republican tricolour is flown there, but when the team plays abroad (they were at Murrayfield in Edinburgh yesterday), they fly the flag of the IRFU, which looks like this:
That’s the logo of the team in the middle, and the shields of the four traditional provinces of Ireland surrounding it: clockwise from top left, they are Ulster, Leinster, Connaught, and Munster.
Of course, the flag of the republic itself was supposed to represent Irish unity, specifically peace between Protestants and Catholics. But the Protestants of Northern Ireland don’t really see it that way. So the four-provinces motif is a good substitute for when an all-island flag is needed, expressing a geographic, not a religious, unity. Such flags, consisting only of the quartered arms of the four provinces, are available – although there is no set order to the provinces! That is why I propose, for those times when Irish unity needs proper expression, a flag of the arms of the four provinces divided per saltire:
In this rendition, the order of the provinces is predetermined, because it roughly follows the map: