It was used to represent NI alongside England, Wales and Scotland between NI's creation in 1922 to 1953 and more recently on occasion in the 21st century. it is also the centre piece on the NI police badge.
green ensign with the Northern Ireland flag or is possibly even a proposal.
Ever since a small movement for Northern Ireland independence was created in 1946, a flag would be needed. Initially they wanted Dominion status like Canada and Australia. The flag of this "Ulster Nation" was to be a St Patricks Cross on a St Andrews Cross with the Red Hand of Ulster and Star in the centre. This flag can still be seen today although(Ironically) mostly by unionists
Next is the only NI flag proposal to ever be officially used in that capacity the Ulster Banner:
Although this is a banner of the Northern Ireland coat of arms granted in the 1920s it was not used as a flag until 1953, initially to celebrate the Queen's coronation. It was the official NI flag between 1953 and 1973, when the Northern Ireland Parliament was dismantled, This flag is still the most popular flag among unionists after the Union Jack, and still used by the Northern Ireland international football team and commonwealth games team.
Both were based on a combination of the former Ulster Banner and provincial flag of Ulster, the first featured the six pointed star, however aware this might be disapproved of by nationalists proposed a second version based on a Celtic cross, neither design was officially adopted.
The Northern Ireland Alliance Party which sees itself as cross community proposed a flag in 2003
This rather unattractive flag was simply a map of Northern Ireland on a blue field, their was also suggestions the Giant's Causeway might be used, thankfully this flag did not gain support.
In 2009 the British Comedian Eddie Izzard ran around the United Kingdom for charity. In each region he carried that regions respective flag, but used his own design for NI:
It featured a green field with a dove at the top end of the fly. When asked about it he said green represented Northern Ireland, and was taken from the national football top, and the dove represent peace.
Another proposal came from England, from the Conservative Councillor of Reading Richard Willis:
In 2010 Dr Dominic Bryan of Queens University Belfast was interviewed about the Northern Ireland flag by the BBC he came up with the fallowing proposal:
It featured the colours of both UK and Republic of Ireland flags with the red hand in the centre, he also suggested an alternative red hand based on a child's hand to symbolise the future. His proposal was taken by the BBC to the streets of East and West Belfast and got a mixed response with no real progress.
If the Hass Talks reach their deadline of before the new year Northern Ireland could have a new flag by 2014!
links to the current news report