Northern Ireland Assembly use of external lighting policy at Parliament Buildings (2014)


1. In addition to the financial and environmental benefits to be gained by the LED external lighting system, it also has the ability to "colour wash" the facade of Parliament Buildings. This, by controlling the brightness and colour of the external lamps, consequently a wide variety of effects can be obtained ranging from subtle light, shade and colour effects highlighting the building's architectural features to a full "colour wash" of the building for special events and other functions.

2. These features, if properly and tastefully used, clearly have the potential to enhance the appearance of our iconic building and its public perception. However, there is an obvious concern that over-use could adversely affect the image and reputation of Parliament Buildings.

Purpose statement

3. Parliament Buildings being the home of the Northern Ireland Assembly, the legislative body for Northern Ireland established under the Belfast Agreement 1998 (Good Friday Agreement), it is therefore essential that this policy utilises the full capacity of the enhanced lighting system to best effect, but will do so in a way which is in keeping with the purpose, history and use of the building.


4. This policy will affect all set "enhanced" external lighting features ("colour-wash") including blackā€“out[1] requests scheduled and ad-hoc request by Members when sponsoring a 3rd party organisations event. No request from individual members of the public will be considered under this policy.

Policy Statement & Responsibilities

5. In order to maximise the use of the system it is therefore proposed that:

a) The Commission will schedule up to 4 days (consecutive or not) during a calendar year for event(s) of its choice in line with the policy.

b) The Northern Ireland Charity of the year will have access to the system for up to 5 days (consecutive or not) during its 12 months term.

c) The Assembly Commission will grant up to another 8 days for events during a calendar year when requests are made (paragraphs g) in line with the policy (1 day per event).

Altogether there will be up to 17 days scheduled per year in line with the policy with potential extraordinary ad-hoc requests as specified at paragraphs h) & i).

d) There are also a considerable number of internationally recognised days including some 140+ UN specific days including Holocaust day, Suicide Prevention Day, World Aids Day, Autism, Diabetes etc.

In many cases these carry political connotations or are not associated with a specific colour. These days will therefore not be yearly marked except where specifically requested in line with the policy or have been chosen by the Commission as part of its annual 4 days (paragraph a).

e) No more than 4 days of featured external lighting for separate events will be permitted per calendar month.

f) Only Events organised at Parliament Buildings or within the Stormont Estate (DFP approved) will have access to the lighting system for 1 or several consecutive days.

g) Due to the perceived appetite from 3rd party organisations to utilise the system only charitable, community and non-profit organisations based in or having a significant connection to Northern Ireland, celebrating a significant anniversary (1st, 5th, 10th, 25th, 50th etc..) or occasion may be permitted to have Parliament Buildings illuminated in a special colour in line with paragraph c).

h) Extraordinary events not organised by the Northern Ireland Assembly but which may legitimately be regarded as of significant benefit to the Assembly/province from a tourism/engagement perspective may also be granted permission. (example: Giro d'Italia 2014).

i) Approval for external lighting in line with the policy should be sought from the Assembly Commission no less than 2 calendar months before the event is taking place. This will be agreed by consensus in line with "Historic Anniversaries" (Minutes of Commission meeting held on 08/05/12).

This, unless in exceptional circumstances when it will be granted by the Speaker: i.e. in the event that a recognised sporting team or organisation with a significant connection to the Assembly/province and which has achieved a significant accolade (winning an international competition etc.) may also be granted permission if a request is made.

j) A monthly monitoring of request received will be submitted to the Commission in order to support all of the Policy requirements including that no more than 2 events are supported within any given month.

k) Organisation wishing to use the external lighting feature will apply for the use of this facility directly to the Events Office in line with both this policy and the Events policy.

Organisers will then be advised to seek triple signature sponsorship from Members showing cross-designation support.

The events Office will submit this application to the Commission for approval in line with paragraph c).Within its submission the Events Office will indicate whether a requested date / set of dates falls on a designated day for flying the Union Flag on Parliament Buildings. This will enable the Commission to assess whether a request might cause detriment to the Assembly or raise public concern therefore risk to the Assembly and/or a Member.

Definitions & Abbreviations

6. "Colour-wash": full coverage of the main facades of Parliament Buildings in one single colour. No combination of colours or projection of images available

7. LED: Light Emitting Diode

8. UN: United Nations

External Lighting feature Day: from dusk to dawn on a set date with partial diming from 2am or as specified by onsite technical team.


[1] Earth Hour / Lights-out Initiative (outbreak of WWI)


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