Sinn Féin Stormont speaker announces events marking Northern Ireland centenary

Alex Maskey says it is ‘extremely positive’ five NI Executive parties could agree programme on partition

The Sinn Féin speaker of the Assembly Alex Maskey has announced a series of events to mark the centenary of partition and the creation of Northern Ireland in 1921.

The first sitting of the old Northern Ireland parliament in June 1921 also will be marked during the centenary year.

The events will include lectures, social media initiatives, an open day, exhibitions and outreach activities, said Mr Maskey.

With sharply different unionist and nationalist views about the creation of Northern Ireland Mr Maskey welcomed as "extremely positive" the fact that the five main Stormont parties – DUP, Sinn Féin, SDLP, Ulster Unionist Party and Alliance - could agree a programme of events.

“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,” he said.

“They also represent 100 years of local parliamentary and political institutions and should be taken as an opportunity to allow us to look forward,” he added.

Mr Maskey added: “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.”

The programme will include four lectures by historian and Irish Times contributor Dr Eamon Phoenix on the events leading up and following the creation of Northern Ireland, on the parliament and on perspectives of unionist and nationalist leaders at the time.

All 90 Assembly members will be invited to submit short thoughts of 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.

There will be exhibition on the construction of Parliament Buildings, Stormont, which opened in November 1932 while on November 13th, Covid conditions allowing, there will be an open day to allow the public visit the building.

There also will be an exhibition on women in Northern Ireland politics.

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times

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