Speaker Announces Official Assembly Events To Mark Northern Ireland Centenary

Session: Session currently unavailable

Date: 16 March 2021

Reference: SO 05/20/21

Alex Maskey MLA, Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, today wrote to all Assembly Members with details of official Assembly events to mark the centenaries of the creation of Northern Ireland/partition and the first sitting of the old Northern Ireland Parliament. The programme was agreed by all five political parties on the Assembly Commission.

The Speaker said, “I think it is extremely positive that all five parties on the Assembly Commission have agreed this programme. While the different views on the centenaries in 2021 have to be respected, there is no doubting that the events they mark shaped our politics and our society for the decades which followed. They also represent one hundred years of local parliamentary and political institutions and should be taken as an opportunity to allow us to look forward.

“Throughout the decade of centenaries, the Assembly Commission has used a process and a set of principles to agree how all of those historic anniversaries were officially marked by the Assembly. This approach ensured that they were marked with cross party support and without controversy.

“In this context, the Assembly Commission has agreed a range of initiatives and events for 2021. These include lectures, social media initiatives, an Open Day, exhibitions and outreach activities. While activities have been planned for April, May and June in a format to ensure that they can happen in the current circumstances, plans for later in the year will of course have to take account of the position in relation to public health and restrictions at the time.

While I acknowledge that Members and parties may have had their own preferences if they were making their own decisions, given the differing views that exist, I think it is extremely positive that all five parties on the Assembly Commission have agreed this programme and I look forward to seeing it delivered in the months to come.”


Notes to Editors

Overview of Assembly Commission/ Speaker’s Initiatives in 2021:

“Perspectives On…” Lectures

The Assembly Commission will continue its “Perspectives On…” series of virtual lectures. Between April and June, the Speaker will host a series of four lectures by Dr Eamon Phoenix on:

  • • The events leading to, and following, the creation of Northern Ireland/partition.
  • • The unionist perspective and unionist and loyalist leaders in 1921.
  • • The nationalist perspective and nationalist and republican leaders in 1921.
  • • The old Northern Ireland parliament.

“100 Years, 100 Words”

In line with the Assembly Commission’s principles on centenaries to acknowledge and respect different narratives, all MLAs will be invited to submit short thoughts (approximately 100 words), giving their perspective on the centenary in text or video. These will then be used on the Assembly website and Assembly social media over several months beginning in April.

Parliament Buildings Open Day

Subject to the public health situation, the Speaker and the Assembly Commission hope to host an Open Day at Parliament Buildings on Saturday 13 November 2021 (Parliament Buildings was opened on 16 November 1932), with a range of activities to encourage those who may have never had the opportunity to visit Parliament Buildings before.

Exhibition on the Construction of Parliament Buildings

The Assembly Commission exhibition produced in 2012, on the construction of Parliament Buildings will be redisplayed when Parliament Buildings reopens to the public.

Exhibition on 100 Years of Women Members

A new exhibition will be produced highlighting all of the women who served as members (110 in total), of the local parliamentary and political institutions over the last 100 years (including the Northern Ireland Parliament from 1921, the 1973 Assembly, the 1975 Constitutional Convention, the 1982 Assembly, the 1996 Northern Ireland Forum for Political Dialogue, and the Northern Ireland Assembly from 1998). This exhibition will be produced to be launched for the Parliament Buildings open day in November.

Speaker’s Events

The Speaker hopes to preside over a number of outreach parliaments in the Assembly Chamber later this year focused on different sections of the community including:

  • • The first sitting of the Youth Assembly
  • • A Pensioners Parliament
  • • A Parliament for People with Disabilities
  • • An Ethnic Minorities Parliament

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