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Closer ties, but different political colours

February 5, 2010

Second only to body language, the colour of a politician’s tie can speak volumes.084

Northern Ireland’s political leaders are particularly careful about the message they send out in a community in which green represents the mostly Roman Catholic aspiration for a united Ireland and orange symbolises centuries of Protestant affinity to British rule.

The atmosphere of good humour and relief that accompanied a deal to devolve all-important police and justice powers to Belfast was not quite enough to persuade the rival parties to switch sartorial allegiances.

Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness of nationalist party Sinn Fein began his address to a crowded news conference with a speech in Irish.

He then announced the idea had crossed his mind of wearing an orange tie, “but as you can see….” he continued, indicating his red tie, he did not.

The trade-off to McGuinness sporting orange would have been that DUP leader and First Minister Peter Robinson would have worn green, rather than the black, striped with red and white he chose instead.

Significantly, it blended rather than clashed with McGuinness’ choice.

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