Union flag left off identity cards in order to recognise Irish nationals' rights in NI – The Guardian

The union flag has been left off the final design of the national identity card unveiled today in order to recognise the "identity rights" of Irish nationals living in Northern Ireland.
Instead the ID card design unveiled by the home secretary, Alan Johnson, features a tasteful floral pattern made up of the shamrock, daffodil, thistle and rose alongside the Royal Coat of Arms.
A Home Office spokesperson saidtoday this was because "the card represents all the nations of the United Kingdom and the design reflects themes of Britishness and aspects of UK history".
But the first cards to be issued this autumn to young volunteers in Manchester and north-west England will not include Welsh language names of applicants. It will eventually be possible to apply for a national ID card in Welsh and to have a Welsh name reflected on the card but the Home Office has not yet resolved all the design problems involved.
A recent Identity and Passport Service impact assessment of the next phase of the ID card scheme says it is important that it is designed in a way that is open to everyone who has the right to live in the United Kingdom – whether they are British, Irish or a national from another country.
The Home Office say that they are clear that the ID card scheme must work in a way that "fully recognises the identity rights of the people of Northern Ireland as laid out in the Belfast Agreement".
The assessment says that while some symbols have been included within the card’s design to indicate that the document has been issued by the British government they have "sought to design features which can reflect all parts of the United Kingdom, such as the inclusion of the shamrock to represent Ireland within the tactile feature, and we have sought to avoid symbols such as flags".
The decision means that Irish nationals living in Northern Ireland will be issued with an "identification card" which is a version of the identity card which will differ from that issued to British citizens.
This will not record an individual’s identity and therefore cannot be used as a travel document around Europe as only the Irish government can issue a travel document to Irish citizens. However they will be registered on the British ID national database and so be able to use the card to prove their identity.
The Home Office is also going to assure those who hold Irish nationality or dual citizenship living in Britain that they will continue to have the right to apply for an Irish passport even though they are on the UK national identity register.
The ID card design unveiled today shows the information contained on the face of the card, including photograph, name, date of birth and signature as well as the unique design.
The Home Office said the information contained on it is "similar" to that on a current UK passport as well as a photograph and fingerprints on a secure electronic chip.
The home secretary, Alan Johnson, said: "The introduction of ID cards today reaches another milestone,  enabling the people of Manchester to prove and protect their identity in a quick, simple and secure way.
"Given the growing problem of identity fraud and the inconvenience of  having to carry passports, coupled with gas bills or six months’ worth of bank statements to prove identity, I believe the ID card will be  welcomed as an important addition to the many plastic cards that most  people already carry."


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