SCOTTISH police officers have been issued a list of flags that could be considered a criminal offence to wave and lead to five years in prison.
According to The Herald, a “restricted” document has been issued to officers which included a list of flags that could be a criminal offence if waved in “a provocative manner”.
As a result, officers may charge those judged to be in breach of the peace under Section 38 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing Scotland Act 2010.
If convicted, offenders could face up to five years in prison.
Amongst the list of offending flags is the Irish tricolour, as well as the ‘Sunburst, which is closely associated with Irish nationalism and the ‘Starry Plough’, which was originally adopted by the Irish Citizen Army.
Also on the list are the Leinster flag, the four provinces flag, the Orange Order flag, the Red’ Hand’ of Ulster flag and the Ulster Independence flag.
The Israeli and Palestinian flags are also on it, as well as the Catalan and Basque flags.
Much of the flags on the list display symbols associated with republican and loyalist groups, and are often waved at parades and Scottish football games.
The restricted police document was obtained by the Scottish newspaper under the Freedom of Information legislation, and reads: “Whilst the display of the following flags is not an offence, in itself, if flown or displayed in a provocative manner or altered, constitute a common law Breach of the Peace or an offence under Section 38 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2000.
“If they are altered to contain a reference to a proscribed organisation they may constitute an offence under Section 13 of the Terrorism Act 2000.
“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.”
Underneath each flag listed is a brief description of its significance.
For the Irish Tricolour, it reads: “The green represents the Gaelic tradition of Ireland and the orange represents the followers of William of Orange in Ireland, with white representing peace, or a truce, between them.
For The Sunburst, it says: “This flag is associated with early Irish nationalism, and more recently, youth wings of Irish republican groups such as Fianna na hEireann. The symbol can be seen on some republican murals and indicative of the dawn of a new era.”
Next to The Starry Plough, it reads: “This flag was originally used by The Irish Citizen Army, a socialist, republican movement; James Connolly, co-founder of the movement, said the significance of the banner was that a free Ireland would control its own destiny from the plough to the stars. The flag was flown by The Irish Citizen Army during the 1916 Easter Rising.
The Herald notes that the Irish embassy declined to comment on the matter.