Remembrance Day Ceremony at Stormont ends in disagreement.

A Remembrance Day ceremony was hosted by the Speaker Mitchel McLaughlin in the Great Hall of the Assembly today with representatives of all the main parties in attendance.

All seemed to be going well until at the end some Unionists in the audience broke out into rendition of God Save The Queen at the end of the ceremony.

What ensued was annoyance from Sinn Fein and defiance from the DUP.

First up we had the DUP’s Peter Weir with this statement;

It is right that on Armistice Day we pause to mark 97 years since the cessation of fighting on the Western Front and all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in World War One and since then.

There is an annual Act of Remembrance within Parliament Buildings, which usually closes with the singing of the National Anthem. Those of us who participated in the spontaneous singing of the National Anthem this year did because it is normal for the anthem to be sung at such events. It was not a stunt or a politically motivated gesture, but simply a normal part of such events anywhere in the United Kingdom.

To avoid any confusion in future it would perhaps be beneficial if the National Anthem was again placed on the order of service next year.

For Sinn Fein, we had the Culture Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín ;

I attended this morning’s civic remembrance event in the Great Hall as a mark of respect.

A number of my party colleagues were also in attendance.

The event itself, led by Assembly Speaker Mitchel McLaughlin, was conducted in a spirit of generosity and was respectful, inclusive and received wide support from right across the political spectrum.

It was disappointing therefore that some unionists chose to disrespect the spirit of the event with a childish stunt in an attempt to embarrass those in attendance.

I welcome the fact that other unionist representatives came to me to express their anger and disappointment at how the civic remembrance event had been disrespected.

Would be interesting to know what Unionist representatives spoke to Caral and other Sinn Fein representatives afterwards?

My question for the Sluggerverse; is this a storm in a tea-cup? Or do Sinn Fein have a reasonable complaint here?

Sidenote; I understand that it was a member of the TUV in attendance at the ceremony who started singing God Save The Queen.

Sammy Morrison (works with the TUV) told the BBC;

I’ve been attending the act of remembrance every year since my boss, Jim Allister, was elected to Stormont in 2011.

This is the first year it didn’t appear on the order of service. I didn’t see why it was left off.

It was sung every other year – nobody that attended those events in the past was offended by it, I don’t see why anybody should be offended by it this year.

The vast, vast majority of people who attended obviously felt we should have been singing the national anthem as well because they joined in with me.

Mike Nesibitt (who on the BBC footage can be seen speaking with McGuinness afterwards) said this;

I think we should all welcome the ever more inclusive nature of Stormont’s Armistice Day service, but I am unclear why the National Anthem was dropped from the Order of Service. It should be there and the Ulster Unionist Party will be meeting Assembly authorities tomorrow to discuss why it was not.

What is regrettable is that some nationalists who did attend today felt they had been ambushed. As we work our way through this challenging decade of Centenaries, we should ensure there are no surprises for any participants. Today was the worst outcome for both unionists and nationalists. I want the National Anthem back on the Order of Service for everyone to see.

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  • catholicus

    It’s both.

  • Jane2

    Absolutely. And at least it wasn’t Sloop John B, so there’s that.

  • npbinni

    If it was a normal part of previous ceremonies, then I think that it is still valid to sing The Queen. No offence is intended, I’m sure. Those who decide to take offence have every right to do so. Just need to suck it up and get on with life. No big deal.

  • mickfealty

    Is this genuinely all we know about it David? Because on the basis of our account then the finger of accusation points straight at the unionists. Needless to say though I’d like more contextual information before rushing to judgement.

    How was it for instance that the anthem came to dropped?

  • WindowLean

    Storm in a teacup. Good natured banter. Of course, had the Shinners burst into a rendition of “Amhran Na bhFiann” that would have been insulting. That’s the default position in NI.

  • Ernekid

    It’s a bit sad that grown adults are engaging in this childish behaviour. It’s the sort of thing that you’d expect from a class of P5s.

  • Korhomme

    More information please. What happened in previous years? Was God Save the Queen (King) always sung at the end. Was this dropped? If so, when and why?

  • the context is that this is a national day of Remembrance. That would be national UK day. The national anthem was dropped off the order of service this year…. so those who might be familiar with such events must have thought it was merely absent by omission and no specific slight intended.

  • chrisjones2

    I know …refusing to sing the Queens anthem when she pays the wages …shocking and petty

  • Lorcs1

    Behaviour like this from elected representatives is truly saddening.

    Have a bit of good grace and behave like someone befitting the position. Lead your communities by accepting a gesture of good will from the “other side”.

  • David McCann

    Spoke to a few ppl there and one person there (from the TUV I understand) started singing and then the rest followed.

    Some DUPers saying Unionist politicians from other parties did raise concern with Sinn Fein.

    On the anthem being dropped, I think to get more nationalist buy in, it was left off the programme. Worth pointing out, Weir issued his comments before Sinn Fein did.

  • Jane2

    I might believe that if it wasn’t for the fact that the TUV press person started it.

  • mjh

    I don’t know, Mick.

    I would have thought disrespectful behaviour at a service to remember the war dead was disrespectful behaviour whatever the context.

  • submariner

    The queen does not pay anyone’s wages the tax payers do. But don’t let that get in the way of your classless sneering.

  • Rowdie111

    Remembrance day is all about remembering British men and women who gave their lives fighting for GB and NI….it is honoured by waving of the Union Jack and singing of God Save the Queen which is our national anthem and both are symbolic of that what all those who died…..fought and.died for.!

  • submariner

    Yet again Unionists disgrace themselves with their bigoted nonsense. What’s the betting that the TUV guy is not an ex serviceman.

  • submariner

    Thing is I don’t think Mr Morrison is an elected representative

  • kalista63

    The TUV guy who started it isn’t even an MLA but a wee nutter who’s been doing stunts recently, to raise his profile. Think Sammy Morison is his naem.

    Mike Nesbitt immediately apologised to SF for the ‘stunt’

  • Gingray

    Storm in a tea cup.
    It really is not unexpected from a small number of unionists, and it would be difficult for the majority not to join in when their anthem played. Rude not to in fact.

  • kalista63

    Are unionists going to say no to the half billion Irish Euros that’s coming to them, not to mention Dublin financing for loyalist groups

  • Lorcs1

    False. Northern Ireland wasn’t in existence at the time of World War 1. Therefore nobody died for it.

  • Gingray

    The Queen pays the wages? Sorry have we started taxing the royal family more than we subsidise them?

    I’ve no problem with unionists wanting to sing their anthem, but if you prefer to have a shared event with the representatives of the rest of the community then you may want to consider agreeing what to do.

    It’s a stunt.

    But ultimately a storm in a teacup.

  • kalista63

    The interesting bit is how MMG reacted. Rightly, he stood up with respect and dignity, unionism’s greatest fear.

  • Jack Stone

    Actually, if we are being honest, It was probably the British Government’s enforced conscription in Ireland during the First World War (which was harsher than in the rest of the UK) created the backlash which was one of the causes of the Easter Rising and a contributing factor to the hostile views against the British Army we see today in Nationalist communities.

  • kalista63

    Don’t forget Redmondism

  • Cavehill

    A storm in a tea cup, but demonstrative of a wider intolerance of Unionists to moderate their traditions to make them more inclusive to Nationalists and encourage buy-in. It’s also a very funny look at how the TUV dog wagged the tail of the DUP and UUP who felt obliged to sing along. McGuinness and Ford behaved well in the moment, plus Nesbitt was right to apologise so gets brownie points for that too.

  • kalista63

    Would be interesting to know what genuine WWII vets think of the stunt

  • Jack Stone

    Even Redmond voted against conscription. it was not just Parnell.

  • Reader

    There was no conscription in Ireland.

  • Ernekid

    There was never conscription in Ireland during WW1. They seriously considered it in 1917-18 but after the rising attitudes towards the war in Ireland had soured to such an extent they feared that the British would be facing an uprising in Ireland. The fear of conscription was a useful recruiting tool for Sinn Fein.

  • Reader

    Sinn Fein has a point. In particular, they should not have been ambushed in that way.
    And in general, I think not much is lost from the service by leaving out the national anthem, since the service commemorates individuals.

  • Jack Stone

    What? Acts of parliament passed in early1916 made it so that any British Citizen was able to be conscripted but a conscription act was not extended to Ireland at the time. the Military Service Bill of 1918 passed on April 16, 1918 extended conscription to Ireland. It passed parliament but it was never implemented. There were many attempts and things like the Hay plan also failed.

  • willieric

    Why was the anthem discarded? Many non unionists stand for GSTQ at Windsor Park.
    How many NI athletes and sportsmen, women and children representing Ireland stand respectfully during the Irish national anthem in Ireland and elsewhere without quibble or complaint, or….taking offense? Including international rugby players?
    SF have become accustomed to acquiescence from all sides as reward for behaving like a normal minority party, all be it in a gerry-mandered assembly. So SF’s under pressure arts guru cries stunt. Nothing new there.

  • mac tire

    You’ve boxed yourself into a corner there, submariner. No doubt Chris will come back with that intellectual heavyweight argument: “Sure, of course she pays the wages: her head is on the money.”

  • 23×7

    Well the nationalists won’t be there next year. What a great idea.

  • Granni Trixie

    Yet again Mike wants it all ways. On one hand he sounds as though he understands the rationale for dropping the anthem (inclusion) but goes on to call for the old ways to prevail.

    Personally I can take or leave the anthem but I do think it was an advance to plan a ceremony which had broader appeal than previously. The unionist response was so lacking in a spirit of generosity – the opposite to what the ceremony is meant to engender, I presume.

  • 23×7

    Irrelevant. The fact is it was removed to get nationalist buy in. Now they’ve been screwed over I doubt they’ll attend in future. Yet another unionist own goal I’m afraid and does little to dispel the view that Nov 11 has been hijacked by the intolerant.

  • WindowLean

    She owns all the highways too!

  • WindowLean

    OK, I’m going for the storm in a teacup option. A TUV clown ensures that what appeared to be a genuine and sincere service gets all the wrong attention. Villiers caught on the hop too as she joins in with Morrison’s shouty version of GSTQ. I’ve been critical of Nesbitt over the past few months but fair play to him for how he reacted.

    Edit: I’ve just read Nesbitt’s statement that was added to the original post. Is he saying that he welcomes the more inclusive nature of the service this year but wants it to go back to the way it was before it was inclusive??

  • mac tire

    Well, I’m not privy to all the details but I’ll use a bit of common sense.
    I’d say that SF decided it would attend this event in the spirit of tolerance, respect and compromise (why else would they be there?).

    I’d say they probably said “Listen, is there any chance you could make this slightly easier for us and not play the anthem?”

    This seemed to be agreed (why else was the anthem not played if it has been played before?).

    Everything was going swimmingly until the TUV guy decided to do his own thing (let’s face it, that is what he done if he strayed off the “script”).

    He done it to embarrass Sinn Féin or even hoping they would walk out in disgust in an amateur effort to dictate tomorrow’s local headlines (at least in the Bel Tel anyway).

    The TUV’s actions here besmirched this occasion and have shown, if it ever needed to be, that this party has no interest in compromise or tolerance.

    Now, if the shoe were on the other foot and say, an Éirigí activist (another micro group) jumped up at the end of a 2016 commemoration and went against the grain, there would be no calls for more information on this, no attempt to intellectualize it.

    Let’s call a spade a spade.

  • mac tire

    “..on the basis of our account then the finger of accusation points straight at the unionists.”

    Mick, because sometimes they can feck up, you know.

  • kalista63

    Let’s not forget that many Irish republicans fought and fell on the fields of WWI and some in WWII, including my maternal grandfather and 3 great uncles, 2 of whom died at Thiepval.

  • Dominic Hendron

    Schoolboy stuff, truly laughable

  • willieric

    Agree with sentiments expressed during the first four paragraphs. Why introduce conditions to attend an event which cries out for unconditional support?
    Every committee , conference, service, club and church meeting that is attended by Morrison probably ends in GSTQ. I feel that his behaviour was partly a Pavlov’s dog type reaction to the powerful ceremony which all the participants experienced , linked probably to a sense of injustice that the organisers had expunged the anthem.
    GSTQ is the national anthem of Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom.

  • babyface finlayson

    Once upon a time when the anthem was played at the end of a movie, everyone knew it was coming and could shuffle quickly out before it started.
    A little bit of forewarning and the Shinners could have finished their traybakes and made their excuses, leaving the rest to sing away.
    The queen may well be gracious but Unionists, or at least some of them, have shown themselves to be lacking in any grace at all on this occasion.

  • Neil

    If Martin wants to participate in a memorial for the British armed forces then he can stand for the anthem of the head of the British armed forces. If he doesn’t then he could always just stay away.

  • kalista63

    He’s the man that pulled the stunt over the painting of the sectarian marching outside St Patrick’s chapel. Wasn’t too well received on Twitter

  • eamoncorbett

    The Queen doesn’t even pay her employees wages , ordinary tax payers do.

  • Pete

    It’s pretty standard for the national anthem to be included in a remembrance service, is it not?

    I think it’s been sung at most/all remembrance services I’ve attended.

  • Lorcs1

    He did stand for it. Quite respectfully by the looks of it.

  • Peter L

    And she is German.

  • Ben Archibald

    Ambushed. What a spectacularly inept choice of word. Arguably the anthem should have been on the Order of Service, but there’s not much wrong with unionists bursting spontaneously into song at the end of a remembrance. I would counsel unionists to bí cúramach with this kind of thing or they may find things like Amhrán na bhFiann on Orders of Service in the run up to Easter.

    Incidentally, sod ‘buy-in’. Either people willingly show respect to the fallen sons and daughters of Ulster who died fighting against totalitarianism or they don’t. We shouldn’t have to breathe the same air as these creatures.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    feck off away to Dublin ya lundy surrenderite!

  • Gaygael

    I think that’s unfair.
    Mike called for it to be on the running order, and that people should not be ambushed. He called for no ambushes in a time of centenaries.
    I think neither ambushes nor stunts is a basic request as we navigate the trick path of reconciliation.

  • Alan N/Ards

    You have got it spot on. This was a stunt by a what my late father would have called a “super loyalist”. He’s a moron who should be ashamed of him self. I have no love for SF, but Martin McGuinness is head and shoulders above the likes of this “clampet” when it comes to acting like a statesman.

  • Alan N/Ards

    There were many, many nationalists who fought and died during both wars. They fought and died, not for a flag and King, but to defeat the nazi’s. It’s as simple as that. The same goes for the unionists who served.

  • 23×7

    Ah the wee hard man approach to remembrance. I find it’s important to show respect to the living as well as the dead.

  • submariner

    Today was Armistice day and as such the event was about the ending of WW 1 which had dam all to do with fighting totalitarianism but rather it was an imperialist war fought for profit. Also it was about remembering all those from the whole of Ireland who fought no just what you have wrongly called Ulster. But hey don’t let that get in the way of your flegger style rant I’m sure all those poor souls who died in WW 1 would be proud of you.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Congratulations TUV, you’ve singlehandedly given SF a get out of jail free card for such occasions in the future.

    Please remember that the next time ‘themuns’ don’t turn up to a similar gig. That’s you that is.

  • chrisjones2

    She is the head of state. The state pays.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “Either people willingly show respect to the fallen sons and daughters of Ulster who died fighting against totalitarianism or they don’t.”

    Well they did willingly show respect and it was thrown back in their faces.

    So now they probably won’t.

  • Zig70

    Those last two sentences together. Wow. Especially ‘fighting against totalitarianism’ and ‘breathe the same air as these creatures’.

  • aquifer

    But would our glorious dead have traded the song for another day with their families?

  • Granni Trixie

    Did we witness the same event? Mike started off OK as he appeared to appreciate that it was unfair to Repubkicans and nationalists – they were a captive audience as the anthem was not listed as part of the ceremony. Then he undermines his good behaviour by sayng that in future the ceremony ought to be listed so that people attending would know. So much for inclusion or generosity.

  • Heather Richardson

    Alan, you should get extra up-votes for use of the word clampet. One of the finest in our vocab 🙂

  • Ben Archibald

    Yep. It’s a pity that impromptu renditions of anthems usually begin with a gobshite.

  • Ben Archibald

    I have found it most encouraging, living in Dublin as I do, to examine the attitudes of my southern friends to the issue of remembrance. They aren’t so easily wounded with assumed sentiment as those ó thuaidh who wish to share their nationality. When at a wedding in Wicklow recently I was chatting about the poppy, there was a refreshingly bold matter-of-factness to the conversation, in contrast to the antagonism one experiences north of Louth.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I will give them the benefit of the doubt that they didn’t insult the anthem by barking ‘no surrender!!’ at the end of each verse.

  • RepStones

    Children up on the Hill. Fair play to Nesbitt though.

  • submariner

    Except it want a remembrance service but rather armistice day when its customary to have a two minute silence at 11 o clock something that you and other Unionist posters have chosen to ignore in your rush to defend the crass stupidity of the TUV clown.

  • Ben Archibald

    That made oi larf.

  • submariner

    And where does the state get its money from? Stop making an arse of yourself Chris attempting to defend the TUV bigots.

  • There seems to be an absence of some fundamental information about this story in our coverage, and in general.

    Given the resulting controversy about the inclusion, or not, of the National Anthem in the Order of Service of this Act of Remembrance what discussion was undertaken, or agreement sought, by the NI Assembly Speaker about the Order of Service before the event itself?

    The press release from the NI Assembly Speaker seems to suggest that he was responsible.

    The Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly said: “My involvement in First World War commemorations over this last year has only underlined to me the importance that the Assembly should remember and show respect to the fallen. Therefore, lighting Parliament Buildings red on the 11th November is an important initiative and will follow on from the Act of Remembrance I will lead in the Great Hall to allow Members, staff, the civil service and visitors the opportunity to come together to mark the two minutes silence at 11am.

    “Remembrance is very personal, even private, for many. As the Speaker representing an Assembly of diverse views, I am conscious that people will mark remembrance in their own ways being influenced by their own different backgrounds and perspectives.

    “Remembrance should be a unifying, not a divisive, concept and my focus is to encourage as many people as possible to be involved in remembrance, regardless of how they choose to do it. n the First World War thousands of young men and women set aside their differences at home to fight in common cause on foreign battlefields. That is an example that is foremost in my mind at this time of year.” [added emphasis]

    If, as the DUP’s Peter Weir has said, the “annual act of remembrance within Parliament Buildings[] usually closes with the singing of the national anthem” then dropping it this year without prior discussion and/or agreement would seem to have been a misjudgement, at best.

  • Ben Archibald

    You’ve made an exciting assumption about my grasp of the meaning of Ulster. I am not sure what flegger rants you’ve read recently (I’m all about the designated days, me) but I am relatively certain few enough of them have argued a parity between the UK and Irish national anthems in NI.

    I am not usually given to declarations of respect for anyone. I think the TUV moron who started this unseemly mess needs time in a decent finishing school.

  • Pete

    And I presume they held the silence, as is customary?

    You are just making a pretty meaningless distinction there. It was a remembrance service held on Armistice Day.

    Eg, the BBC News headline states, “Armistice Day: National Anthem singing at Stormont remembrance service a ‘childish stunt’, Sinn Féin says”.

  • Ben Archibald

    Perhaps you are right about the last sentence. I have been inconsistent. Each to her own conscience. I consider myself correctly upbraided.

  • Granni Trixie

    With respect. I don’t thnk you are being quite logical. Reconciliation calls for adjustments with the anthem included it looked like “unionists rule, OK?” .

  • Sir Rantsalot

    So the nationalists show once again that they are full of bitterness, hatred and intolerance. What a surprise! If you get so worked up about the national anthem sung in an appropriate way, then it’s you that have the problem.

  • chrisjones2

    I am not defending anyone …just exposing the myopia of alleging that when one group sings its automatically evil and wrong and sectarian and dishonest but when another leaves the anthem off the order of service it aint

  • chrisjones2

    Well, theres bugger all else he can do is there

  • chrisjones2

    I think he’s just an idiot.

    By the way did he know the words of the second verse?

  • babyface finlayson

    That’s the spirit. No compromise, not an inch!

  • Gaygael

    Yes I think it does. I think he was happy enough for the running paper to not include the anthem and that is what he signed up for.
    I think he is wise to call to for no ambushes or surprises in the coming years of centenaries.

  • Granni Trixie

    No, he clearly said he thought the anthem ought to be included in the future. It’s not good enough that all he was objecting to was the impact of the surprise element.

    Traditions are not written in stone. Post GFA Surely we should be constructing new traditions based on value for inclusion? And having as many public occasions as possible above petty party politics. As I said before in this post,the Queen has set an example.

  • submariner

    Being accused of bitterness ,hatred and intolerance by Unionists is a bit like being lectured on the evils of drink by an alcoholic

  • submariner

    It seems that those at the centaph in City Hall didn’t get the memo. Quick somebody book The TUV for next year.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Hope they all stood up for GSTQ at the end of the conversation…..

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I’d sooner listen to an alcoholic than a teetotaller regarding that topic…

  • Am Ghobsmacht


    If they’re so full of bitterness and hatred then why did they attend?

    That would suggest that they are not so embittered after all.

    Furthermore IF (if) there was an agreement not to sing the anthem and the word was broken then surely they’re entitled to feel hard done by?

    And is suddenly barking out the national anthem the ‘appropriate way’?.

    They have a very valid source of grievance here and it is entirely the fault of a unionist, no one else.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    A most important point Reader! In the general possessiveness with which some political interests here treat the Remembrance Day Service, it is all too easily forgotten that actual individuals died and are remembered in grief by other individuals. Anything else is simply politics. I desperately resent the manner in which they have tainted the meaning of the British Legions Poppy.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Yours perhaps, certainly not mine, chris, “The truth does not in itself change simply because fools choose to believe lies”:

  • SeaanUiNeill

    It is all too easily forgotten that while the Irish Volunteers from the north tended to join the Connaught Rangers, very many Catholics joined the regiments that would comprise the 36th Ulster Division, many alongside protestant friends. In many ways a better time, even if the use this was put to by politicians was highly suspect…..

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Sub, I was not aware that he was actually singing during the two minute silence. And I felt that the nadir of disrespectful crassness had already been reached simply in his ignoring common respect for the cross community nature of the event………