Tiny Outer He­bridean is­lands set to raise the flag to boost iden­ti­ties

The Scotsman - - AROUND SCOTLAND - By ALI­SON CAMPSIE ali­son. [email protected] jpi­me­dia. co. uk

They are tiny is­lands with big iden­ti­ties.

N o w c o m m u n i t i e s o n E r i s k a y, B e n b e c u l a a n d North Uist are com­ing to­gether to de­sign new flags that will re­flect the cul­ture, his­tory and val­ues of the is­lands they call home.

The Court of the Lord Lyon – the le­gal pro­tec­tor of Scotl and’s her­aldr y, f l ags and na­tional sym­bols – will over­see the com­pe­ti­tion that will se­lect how each is­land is rep­re­sented.

All is­landers are in­vited to con­trib­ute, with those who have moved to the main­land or over­seas par­tic­u­larly en­cour­aged to take part with de­sign ideas go­ing to a short­list and pub­lic vote over the sum­mer.

Three votes will take place – one for each is­land – by online and postal vot­ing.

Alasdair Al­lan MSP, SNP mem­ber for Na h- Eileanan an Iar, said: “As well as be­ing an ob­vi­ous ex­pres­sion of the iden­tity of a com­mu­nity and pro­vid­ing a col­lec­tive sym­bol to rally around, com­mu­nity flags could help to boost the pro­file of each is­land and boost mar­ket­ing ef­forts.

“Peo­ple of­ten think of the Western Isles and one com­mu­nity, but the Western Isles is at least half a dozen com­pletely dis­tinct com­mu­ni­ties, all which are a very long way from each other.

“All th­ese com­mu­ni­ties have a very strong sense of iden­tity and they all have a very strong his­tory.”

Mr Al­lan said he ex­pected sym­bols of the is­lands’ mythol­ogy and her­itage to ap­pear in the short­listed de­signs.

South Uist had its of­fi­cial flag con­firmed in 2017 and con­fir­ma­tion fol­lowed soon af­ter­wards for Barra. In the time since, the t wo is­lands have used their re­spec­tive nordic crosses as ef­fec­tive icons for their com­mu­ni­ties, which are now cen­tral to ef­forts to mar­ket Barra and South Uist.

Once vot­ing has com­pleted, the Court of the Lord Lyon will as­sess the pro­posed flags to check t hey do not clash with any of­fi­cial Scot­tish flags al­ready in ex­is­tence.

Philip Tib­betts, honorary vex­il­lol­o­gist with the Court of the Lord Lyon, has toured s c ho ol s on t he i s l a nds t o en­cour­age ideas and en­tries.

He said: “I have been greatly im­pressed by the pos­i­tive re­cep­tion to the con­cept of the flags as well as the ideas the pupils have come up with so far – the dis­tinct his­tor y, ge­og­ra­phy and cul­ture of each is­land is serv­ing as a very rich pal­ette for some very cre­ative minds.

“I was also very im­pressed on my visit to see the in­no­va­tive ways that the neigh­bour­ing flags of Barra and South Uist are al­ready be­ing used to pro­mote their com­mu­ni­ties.”

0 The is­land com­mu­nity on Ben­bec­ula is to de­sign and vote on a new flag

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