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Festival's Nazi flag gets just one complaint

NAZI Swastika naval flags on public display for the first time in nearly 70 years in Ireland drew just one complaint from a member of the public.

The Bratacha festival of flags and emblems, now on show at the National Maritime Museum in Dun Laoghaire, features hundreds of flags, including some Nazi flags.

However, organisers said they received "several adverse comments" on their display of some other flags, including the union flag, the flag of Israel and that of the US.



"Virtually everyone visiting realised that this was an educational exhibition which traces the history of the world, through the display of flags, which at the end of the day are simply pieces of material stitched together," a spokesman said yesterday.

"It's most interesting that many national flags have their origins in the maritime world, so it's fitting that this exhibition is being staged in Ireland's National Maritime Museum in Dun Laoghaire," he added.

Organisers say it is the first Irish festival to focus on the "history, heritage, culture and identities associated with flags".

The Herald reported last week that the controversial move to include the Swastika flags – one of the most reviled emblems of the 20th century in the wake of Nazi atrocities during the Second World War – had been made on educational grounds.

The Swastika, an ancient symbol adopted by the Nazis, featured on flags in Germany between 1933 and the end of the war in 1945 and also at the German embassy in Ireland.

Paul Durkan, chairman of the steering committee of the Bratacha festival, told the Herald that the educational exhibition would feature the story of the German flag from the early 1900s imperial flag right up to the present day and would include the Nazi flag.

"People may take offence to it, but the whole point is that it is educational and to raise the awareness of the history of Germany and the foundations of the European Union," he added.

While many of the flags have maritime connections, the display includes those from the Middle East crisis, including the Palestinian and Israeli flags, flags from both sides in the Korean War, the conflict in Ireland and the German flags.



A number of countries ban the flying of the Nazi flag, but tend to sanction it for historical or cultural purposes.

There are also Royal Mail naval flags, pennants and various ensigns as well as pre- and post-independence Commissioners of Irish Lights flags.

The international exhibition of flags runs until the end of June and is open daily, including weekends, from 11am until 5pm.

Full details are on www.mariner.ie