“Perspectives On…” - An Agreed Series Of Events To Mark The Decade Of Centenaries At Parliament Buildings
Date: Monday, 14 May 2012
Reference: AC 03/11/12
The Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly William Hay MLA - as Chair of the Northern Ireland Assembly Commission - has announced that the Commission has agreed an approach to commemorating a range of anniversaries to be marked within Parliament Buildings throughout the upcoming decade of centenaries. The initiative-entitled “Perspectives On…” is designed to reflect on our history and allow MLAs the opportunity to discuss the issues and give their own views.
The Speaker said: “Earlier this year, following approaches made to me, I initiated a discussion with the Commission to consider how the decade of centenaries might be handled officially by the Assembly. In representing society as a whole, it was right to consider if historic anniversaries should pass unmarked at the Assembly when a range of events are being held to acknowledge them elsewhere.
“Following discussions with all Members of the Commission, we have established a process to agree by consensus which events will be marked and how they will be marked. In addition, we have also developed a set of principles underpinning the “Perspectives On…” series of events. The Commission has agreed that the range of official Assembly events will mark the more significant anniversaries and developments from a century ago but that the Assembly’s existing policy that allows MLAs to sponsor other events and functions on a cross community basis will still apply. The Commission has also noted that I will continue to hold official events involving the wider community as Speaker and in the next year that will include the Diamond Jubilee and the UK City of Culture 2013.
“I believe this is a hugely constructive development. The Commission has been mindful that the tone with which these events are marked within Parliament Buildings will set a positive example. In April, I led a service to give Members the opportunity to commemorate the sinking of the Titanic which provided a fitting and respectful start to how we handle such events over the next decade. In agreeing this initiative to mark a range of events, each of which will mean more to some than others, the Members of the Commission and their parties have shown leadership and that is to be commended.”
Notes to Editors:
1. The Northern Ireland Assembly Commission was appointed by resolution of the Assembly on the 23 May 2011.
The Commission’s Legislative Base
The Northern Ireland Act 1998 states, "there shall be a body corporate known as the Northern Ireland Assembly Commission ("the Commission") to perform:
(a) the functions conferred on the Commission by virtue of any enactment; and
(b) any functions conferred on the Commission by resolution of the Assembly."
The Commission is the body corporate of the Northern Ireland Assembly. It has the responsibility, under section 40(4) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, to provide the Assembly, or ensure that the Assembly is provided with the property, staff and services required for the Assembly to carry out its work.
The Members of the Commission are:
The Speaker, William Hay MLA (Chair), Judith Cochrane MLA, Leslie Cree MLA, Barry McElduff MLA, Pat Ramsey MLA and Peter Weir MLA.
2. The Commission has agreed:
- The dates and events to be marked through the “Perspectives On” series will be agreed by the consensus by the Commission in accordance with the Principles attached in Annex A.
- The dates outlined for this mandate in Annex B
- The events for 2012 in Annex C.
- In principle to consider papers on the development of two accompanying initiatives - a historical exhibit which will change with the timeline of events and a platform to capture the perspectives of Members on events.
- The Speaker will continue to sponsor other events involving Members and the community, including on the Diamond Jubilee and the City of Culture 2013
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Principles for Northern Ireland Assembly Commission Events to Mark Historic Anniversaries
1. Official Northern Ireland Assembly events hosted by the Speaker to mark historic anniversaries should show leadership by being inclusive, tolerant and respectful of our shared history and differing views on it.
2. The anniversaries to be marked each mandate will be agreed by the Commission and the events to be held each year will be agreed by the Commission at its January meeting of that year. This will all be agreed by consensus.
3. All events will be of a measured and sensitive tone avoiding divisiveness, controversy and confrontation.
4. All events and initiatives will be based in historical fact and consider the wider context of the time.
5. All Members will be invited to all events. Participation in these events is a decision for Members themselves.
6. Opportunities will be provided for discussion and differing views and perspectives to be given.
7. Northern Ireland Assembly policies on the conduct of events and visitors will equally apply to these events and all attending them.
8. Events will be agreed taking account of budgetary constraints.
9. Events to mark historic anniversaries at Parliament Buildings will only mark significant milestone anniversaries agreed by consensus by the Commission. These are not the main events to mark these occasions and are therefore not seeking to compete with the range of events organised by the Executive or others elsewhere in the community.
10. The programme of events will take a range of forms and will draw on external sources for assistance where necessary including academics, museums, and creative organisations
“Perspectives On”: Historic Anniversaries To Be Marked In The 2011-15 Assembly Mandate
Sinking of Titanic
Signing of the Ulster Covenant
The Dublin Lock-out and the rise of the labour movement
The women’s suffrage movement
Outbreak of World War I
i) If the current mandate were to be extended until 2016, the Easter Rising will also be included in the programme of events and arrangements will be put in place for early in the new mandate to ensure an event is organised to mark the Battle of the Somme.
ii) Final dates will be established taking account of recesses and dissolution to ensure events are held close to the relevant anniversary but while the Assembly is sitting.
iii) The Commission in the next Assembly will agree, at an early meeting, anniversaries to be marked during that mandate but they could include events on women being granted the vote and events leading up to partition.
Events To Mark Historic Anniversaries 2012
Event: Titanic Memorial Service
Date: 16 April 2012
Venue: Senate Chamber
Description: Memorial Service before plenary with readings from the Speaker plus representatives of the five parties on the Commission, two hymns accompanied by the Assembly Choir and a minute’s silence.
Invites: Members and representatives of the Titanic Society. Any additional space open to Secretariat and party staff on a first come first served basis.
Event: Launch of “Perspectives On” – Britain and Ireland Pre-1912: The Backdrop to a Decade of Centenaries
Date: June 2012
Venue: Long Gallery
Description: Reception with opening remarks by the Speaker before a lecture by a historian (tbc) followed by a period for questions and contributions from the floor.
Event: “Perspectives on the Ulster Covenant”
Date: September 2012
Venue: Long Gallery and Great Hall
Description: Reception and Buffet in the Great Hall before and after a lecture in the Long Gallery with historian (tbc) including a period for contributions from the floor.