British state papers: Minister’s decision to alter tourism logo described as ‘crass’

Jim McDaid was accused of ‘destroying a small but potent symbol of a new Ireland’

Then minister for tourism Jim McDaid  objected to the logo depicting two figures embracing around a miniature shamrock. Photograph: Frank Miller

Then minister for tourism Jim McDaid objected to the logo depicting two figures embracing around a miniature shamrock. Photograph: Frank Miller

 

A senior British official described a decision in 1997 by then minister for tourism Jim McDaid to unilaterally alter Bord Fáilte’s shamrock logo as “crass” and suggested a meeting should be arranged with his Northern Ireland counterpart while both politicians were visiting the United States in order to promote an “amicable resolution”.

McDaid objected to the logo depicting two figures embracing around a miniature shamrock, which became known in Irish government circles as “the dancing alligators”.

The Tourism Brand Ireland logo, which was developed by Bord Fáilte in partnership with the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, became known in Irish government circles as ‘the dancing alligators’.
The Tourism Brand Ireland logo, which was developed by Bord Fáilte in partnership with the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, became known in Irish government circles as ‘the dancing alligators’.

Dropping the Tourism Brand Ireland logo, developed by Bord Fáilte in partnership with the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, prompted a welter of criticism from north of the Border, with the Irish News accusing McDaid of having “destroyed a small but potent symbol of a new Ireland built on partnership”.

Wrong signals

In October 1997, the British joint secretary Peter Bell reported that McDaid and the Northern tourism minister Adam Ingram might both be in Chicago at the same time. If so, Mr Bell suggested a meeting as “their relationship has taken a knock recently through Mr McDaid’s ‘crass’ (my word) handling of the tourism logo”.

But, he added, it could be an opportunity for McDaid “to think harder about face saving ways of backing down, and more generally, demonstrating publicly unity of purpose”, according to a file on the matter released by the public records office in Belfast.

Bell noted “if they are in the same city but do not meet. This will send out the wrong signals, it will not make the amicable resolution of the logo dispute any easier”.

However, he said he hoped “that if there were any possibility of the two ministers’ itineraries converging there Mr Ingram suitably briefed might take the opportunity to encourage his opposite to see the error of his ways, repent and build a healthier working relationship”.