Stormont’s mostly British list of symbols…

SINN Fein’s Barry McElduff has called for the display of republican symbols and trappings at Stormont, after the publication of a list of those already in place. SF claims that of the 93, around a third are associated with unionism or Britishness, while none are distinctly republican. Mark Devenport noted some of the items – I’d love to see Willie Hay in the Speaker’s “full bottomed wig” although I’m sure Barry felt pretty oppressed in the presence of the silver egg timer with an NI crest. You can read the full list here. Mark notes that “McElduff has now floated the idea of setting up an ad Hoc Committee to examine the equality aspects of the Stormont artefacts”, although he also thought that advice should be taken from the Equality Commission. My guess is that there is little can be done to force the display of republican symbols at Stormont, so perhaps we’re heading towards ‘neutrality’ rather than ‘mutual respect’.

  • Dewi

    Didgeridoo, presented to the Assembly from the Aboriginal Ambassador to Europe in November 2001

    Currently on display in the library

    I dunno – I reckon that’s a Republican symbol of sorts.

  • “I’m sure Barry felt pretty oppressed in the presence of the silver egg timer”

    Why? Is he smaller?

  • Reductio ad absurdum???

  • TAFKABO

    Perhaps it would be more helpful if republicans explained what symbols they would like to see, rather than complain about egg timers?

  • slug

    I would not object to a bust of – say – John Hume being installed somewhere.

  • GavBelfast

    Is this an example of distraction politics as the party generally flaps about rather aimlessly nowadays ?

    I pity the people that SF think this will impress, even moreso if it works.

  • Jen Erik

    Happily scanning down the list, when my brain got bored & inserted an extra ‘r’ into the description of the Coronation vase.

    Very disturbing picture.

  • percy

    I’d like to see a tri-colour room, filled with loads of stuff from the orange and green traditions;
    There unionists can go and sit if they wish, and get in touch with their “inner irishman” or “irishwoman”.
    What we want to do is create a place and an atmosphere where they can feel comfortable with that aspect of their identity.
    so perhaps setting mood music, with educational vidoes, to create a real irish experience to help promote a sense of belonging, to the isle of Ireland.

  • El Paso

    Now we know that Lord Craigavon was buried in the car park, fitting enough for the founder of the UVF. I predict Paisley will qualify for Glasnevin, having done his bit for Old Ireland. But where do you suppose our other leaders will find their final resting places?

  • nineteensixtyseven

    SF must be in some sort of trouble so they’ve resorted to the time-tested tactic of symbolism controversy.

  • DC

    ‘Portrait of Lord Alderdice by Carol Graham unveiled on 11 March 2005

    Members’ dining room’

    Oh yea very offensive.

  • susan

    Egg timers do a lot of harm in their way.

  • Leonidas

    Interested to see which symbols SF feels represent the tradition of republicism in Ulster. Will they be a celebration of the last 40 years’ militarism or comething more timeless? How’s about something from antiquity. Consider this;

    Classical building
    Modern day diarchy
    Terse “laconic” wit(self declared)
    No conscription!
    No surrender!

    You never see Ulster and Sparta in the same place.

    How about erecting a statue copy of this hairy fella as close to Edward Carson as would cause him discomfort.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Heracles.jpg

  • Leonidas

    Interested to see which symbols SF feels represent the tradition of republicism in Ulster. Will they be a celebration of the last 40 years’ militarism or comething more timeless? How’s about something from antiquity? Consider this;

    Classical building
    Modern day diarchy
    Terse “laconic” wit(self declared)
    No conscription!
    No surrender!

    You never see Ulster and Sparta in the same place.

    How about erecting a statue copy of this hairy fella as close to Edward Carson as would cause him discomfort.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Heracles.jpg

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    Slugger really attracts some tools these days.

  • joeCanuck

    Statue of the big man (Priapis).

  • austin

    No wonder people rarely visit Slugger nowadays given the preponderance of prattling prats like ‘Leonidas’-what a wanker.

  • Jer

    JoeCanuck – there are enough of those around the place already.

  • Rory

    Since the most potent symbol of Unionist-administered British rule in Ireland is the Stormont building itself, I believe that the best way to finally resolve this controversy would be to demolish half (or 45% perhaps?)of that building and replace that portion with a replica of Dublin GPO. Unionist support for this daring project could be easily won over (bought off?) by awarding oversight of the development to IP2 who has well publicised experience in the development field.

  • willowfield

    What are “republican” symbols in the context of Northern Ireland, and why would they be appropriate at Stormont?

    Armalites?

    Semtex?

    What about a model of Patsy Gillespie strapped into the homicide bomb?

    Excreta smeared on the toilet walls?

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    A Wolf Tone room would be fitting to both illustrate the non sectarian basis of Republicanism and to commemorate an Ulster presbeterian revolutiuonary leader who commanded cross community support.

  • willowfield

    A Wolfe Tone room? Is that so that it can be closed off and remain unseen by visitors?

    I think a bust of Wolfe Tone on public display would be appropriate – a reminder to visitors of the meaning of real republicanism. The concern, of course, would be that Provisional republicans would seek to arrogate his memory for “themselves alone”.

  • willowfield

    Maybe they could arrange a display to demonstrate the contrast between Tonian republicanism and ethnic nationalist republicanism? Visitors could be invited either to take a stroll down the Tonian corridor, with artefacts relating to libneral democracy, or down the ethnic nationalist corridor, where models of the charred remains of bomb victims could be seen alongside bullet-ridden gospel halls and the aforemention excreta-smeared toilets.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Willows,

    may I remind that that atrocities were common ( on all sides) in the conflict that Wolfey was involved with just as they were in more recent times.

  • willowfield

    Indeed – the difference being, though, that Wolfie and his cohorts were operating in a pre-democratic era where non-violent means of pursuing their aims were scarce. If Wolfie had been around 170 years later he wouldn’t have been planting bombs in pubs, kidnapping and torturing people, attacking gospel halls and murdering fellow citizens.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Willows,

    Shooting British soldiers perhaps?

  • Garibaldy

    Tone rejected what he called a system of private assassination, so I think we can be fairly sure he would not have been a terrorist (in so far as we can say anything like that). Equally we can be damn sure that he would not have joined an organisation that sought only to represent Catholics or Protestants, or Dissenters.

    The symbols like Carson’s statue, paintings of the Boyne etc are historic. Leave them there. The fact is they are representative of a regime that is long gone, and can never return. Any new snymbols to be added, however, should clearly not be in that vein.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Garibaldy,

    “Tone rejected what he called a system of private assassination”

    So shooting soldiers on duty would have been ok?

    “The symbols like Carson’s statue, paintings of the Boyne etc are historic. Leave them there. The fact is they are representative of a regime that is long gone, and can never return. Any new snymbols to be added, however, should clearly not be in that vein. ”

    there may be the merest hint of an arguement of convenience there.

  • DK

    Willowfield,

    I think maybe someone should ring up Biffo and ask him if he has any spare egg-timers (perhaps with Berties hands going round to a brown paper bag before a small police siren goes off to let you know the egg is done).

    Maybe the Irish army can donate a medal case or something.

  • An Lochlannach

    DC – as regards the offensiveness or otherwise of Lord Alderice I should remind you that his first and middle names are John Thomas, clearly a euphemistic reference to the male member. This offends my clean-living sensibilities and I demand that his portrait be covered with a cloth immediately.

  • Garibaldy

    Sammy,

    Nah it wouldn’t. Because he advocated an open war (again his term) through an actual rebellion, and did not want the type of ongoing localised quasi-guerilla warfare that took place from 1796 forward.

    As for the historical argument on the symbols. Yes it would be convenient, but I think we have moved past the need to indulge in an orgy of destruction of symbols of previous regimes any time there is a change of government.

  • willowfield

    McNally

    Shooting British soldiers perhaps?

    See my post of 10.18am. Tone – as a genuine republican – was by definition a democrat and hence would have opposed the murder of anyone, including British (or any other kind of) soldiers in the context of late 20th century Northern Ireland, or any other modern democratic context.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Garibaldy,

    you think he would have more of a GPO (1916) kinda guy?

    Apologies for the dreadful cliche but in a ‘divided society’ there will need to be some levelling up in symbols rather than levelling down. Tone is yer man times likes these with a bit of Casement ( gay Ulster Prod? ) possibly thrown in.

    Robert Sands esquire may have to wait a while methinks to avoid annoying Unionists too much – of course peole will always be able to nip down to Long Kesh for some of that.

  • willowfield

    Personally, I think Tone is a good idea, but Casement – as an anti-democratic pro-unmandated-violence man – would not be acceptable, notwithstanding his religious and sexual orientations. As mentioned previously, Joe Devlin – the main constitutional nationalist figure from Ulster (notwithstanding his penchant for election-cheating) – would be a good person to commemorate.

    You’re spot on about Sands.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Willows,

    more SDLP you think?

    I dont agree – I think he would have been a great performer at the Ard Fheis and possibly even eclipsed Grizzly.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Willows,

    are you aware of Casement outstanding work on human rights? Admittedly not always to the fore in Unionist thinking – he should be a shoe-in for a separate room as well.

    He would serve as a good reminder of why many picked up the gun against imperialsim (British and other ) based on his deep knowledge and experience of unwanted colonial adventures.

  • willowfield

    more SDLP you think?

    He’d have been a civil-righter and probably would have evolved into an SDLP-type.

    are you aware of Casement outstanding work on human rights?

    I am indeed. Hardly the reason that “republicans” would want to commemorate him, though. An odd contradiction: opposed to human rights abuses in Africa but happy to kill fellow citizens unjustly in Ireland.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Well there it is then – consultation completed. Tone and Casement it will be with seperate rooms for these 2 outstanding republicans who also happened to be Prods with strong Non Iron roots.

    Will tell the boy Poots to start work immediately.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Coincidentally, Casement and Alderdice went to the same school. Not at the same time, obviously.

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    Oh dear

    Selecting Republicans that are acceptable to Unionists, where will it all end………………um begin.

    Surprised to see that Willow was a closet admirer of Wolfe Tone and Republicanism, not surprised about the closet though 😉

  • willowfield

    It’s not about republicans who are acceptable to unionists: it’s about republicans whom it is appropriate to commemorate.

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    Great Willow.

    Can we apply the same standards to Unionists? That would rule out any rulers of two tier states for example.

    What to do with all of those empty spaces where the statues used to stand, that would be the issue.

  • willowfield

    Can we apply the same standards to Unionists?

    To what Unionists?

    That would rule out any rulers of two tier states for example.

    What are “rulers of two tier states”?

    What to do with all of those empty spaces where the statues used to stand, that would be the issue.

    What empty spaces where statues used to stand?

  • leonidas

    Anyway, back to Heracles.

    Heracles (as you’ll know) was the common ancestor of the two kings of Sparta. This dual king arrangement (a diarchy) was partly to provide a back-up in war and partly to prevent dictatorship. The two kings ruled in partnership together with a council.

    Classical and particularly Hellenist allusion is the stuff of the enlightenment (Edinburgh – Athens of the north) and “wolfie” era republicanism iconography, as well as of our modern democratic and judicial institutions. It’s well used by Heaney, Longley and Paulin amongst others to draw parallels with events in Ulster. It’s displayed in the Statue of Liberty (from Libertas a Rome’s Goddess) – a gift from the French Republic to the American for example. It’s pretentious, but so what.

    A statue in each of the FM and DFM’s rooms would be nice. The DFM can remember the plucky few hundred who stood for their classical republic against an empire. The FM can form his own allusions.

    I submit that Heracles is a fun symbol for our shared agreement in a town which already boasts Samson and Goliath.

    Or we could just fly a tricolour.

  • nineteensixtyseven

    I think Tone would be quite appropriate; he was more of a Giuseppe Mazzini type than a Roger Casement. Joe Devlin too would be good too as a major nationalist figure from the North. How about Antrim man Eoin MacNeill?

  • leonidas

    Someone said earlier that Tone was a Presbyterian. I thought he was an Anglican Dub.

    We’d be better busting a few of our own. How about the McCrackens? Good family – Newsletter founder, Clifton House founder and a United Irishmen.

    It might even get a few tourists down the Cathedral Quarter on the “McCracken trail”.

  • Garibaldy

    The Joys founded the Newsletter surely, not the McCrackens. But Tone was an Anglican and not a Presbyterian.

    As for Eoin MacNeill. The man who tried to cancel 1916, and sat on the boundary commission. Really?

  • nineteensixtyseven

    I was struggling to find a more modern historical republican from the North but, despite his actions regarding the Easter Rising, he was a leading figure in the Volunteers, a co-founder of Gaelic League and an important scholar of Irish history.

  • Garibaldy

    Bulmer Hobson maybe? Not entirely dissimilar.

  • leo

    “The Joys founded the Newsletter surely, not the McCrackens”

    True but Francis Joy was Henry Joy’s grandpa so he’s part of the family.

    We could have a bronze relief of great Northern nationalist/republican builder-uppers through the ages, Rushmore style.

    Lord Pirrie was a Home Ruler. He could be in it too. Diluting the republicanism a bit though.

    Bulmer Hobson sounds interesting. What about Garrett Fitzgerald’s mum Mabel Washington McConnell?

    This is all getting very middle class protestant republican though.

    Is poor old Eoin MacNeill popular with modern shinners or does his tragedy make him worthy of inclusion in itself? Maybe the boys should be there with him.

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    >>Can we apply the same standards to Unionists?

    To what Unionists?

    That would rule out any rulers of two tier states for example.

    What are “rulers of two tier states”?

    What to do with all of those empty spaces where the statues used to stand, that would be the issue.

    What empty spaces where statues used to stand?
    Posted by willowfield on Jun 02, 2008 @ 04:27 PM<

  • Garibaldy

    Charlie Haughey. Origins in south Derry, and helped found the Provos. They’d love it.

  • Reader

    Prionsa Eoghan: Can we apply the same standards to Unionists?
    Well, I’m in favour of excluding adults who sexually exploit adolescents from any favourable recognition. But what plinths would that leave vacant?
    And overall, how many plinths are in question in your view? There hasn’t been that much contentious statuary put in place round here in the last century or so. Unless you descend to the level of complaining about a New Zealand Prime Minister because he happened to be an orangeman.

  • willowfield

    Prionsa

    Ho ho, no wonder you are so popular Willow, this response to a straightforward question is a classic signature of yours. Answer nothing, and demand answers to your own questions, preferably spurious. How about you answer the original question posed? and then I just might attend to your red herrings

    I can’t answer it if I don’t understand it.

    The same standards to what Unionists?

    All artefacts should be appropriate if that is what you’re trying to get at. Obviously.

  • kensei

    Is poor old Eoin MacNeill popular with modern shinners or does his tragedy make him worthy of inclusion in itself? Maybe the boys should be there with him.

    Actually Eoin MacNeill is a good suggestion. Born in Antrim, one of the founders of the Gaelic League, Chief of Staff with the Irish Volunteers but against a rebellion and tried to stop the Rising, elected to the First Dail, the NI Parliament and the Free State Parliament, pro-treaty and involved with the Boundary commission, there is much there for all sides to think on. I think we need people who are more complex remembered.

    More importantly, he went to my school. As too did John MacBride, executed for his part in the Rising. Another possible candidate.

    And yes, the first person to suggest Eamonn Holmes on the same basis gets hit.

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    Willow

    >>Well, I’m in favour of excluding adults who sexually exploit adolescents from any favourable recognition. But what plinths would that leave vacant?

    And overall, how many plinths are in question in your view?<

  • 0b101010

    How about a colossus of the Lord Protector himself astride the Stormont mile? No?

  • willowfield

    I think you’ve lost it Prionsa – why are you falsely attributing quotations to me?

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    >>It’s not about republicans who are acceptable to unionists: it’s about republicans whom it is appropriate to commemorate.
    Posted by willowfield on Jun 02, 2008 @ 03:44 PM

    -PE- Great Willow.

    Can we apply the same standards to Unionists?

    The question still stands. I can only assume ducking and diving has now become the new pedantry.

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    That is now two in a row Willow has left the arena on.

    I must stop asking awkward questions.