Source: Traditional Unionist Voice – Northern Ireland
Statement by TUV leader Jim Allister:
“Recently on the floor of the Assembly I pressed the Assembly Commission in bringing the artefacts it holds pertaining to the history of our Province out of storage. The Assembly holds a treasure-trove of important items related to the history of Northern Ireland – including portraits of former Prime Ministers Lord Craigavon and JM Andrews, a table with a map of the six counties of Northern Ireland and book containing the names of the civilian war dead – which are hidden away in storage.
“Two years ago I ensured that these items were put on display for four weeks in Stormont. Many members of the public viewing the objects and expressing an interest in the story behind them. After the exhibition it emerged that there hadn’t been a single complaint about either the decision to put the items on public show or the exhibition itself. “I am disappointed that the Assembly Commission has to date no plans to put these items on display again. When I last asked about the issue I discovered that Stormont was paying £10,716 of public money to hide them away from public view.
“On foot of a meeting with Johnny Andrews, great grandson of JM Andrews, the second Prime Minister of Northern Ireland whose portrait is among the items hidden in storage, I wrote to NIO Minister Robin Walker suggesting that the artefacts held by Stormont could form part of an exhibition on the history of Northern Ireland and could tie into a previous suggestion I had put to the NIO – an exhibition of key figures in our history from sport, medicine, industry, the arts, the military, politics, etc which could begin in National Portrait Gallery London and then tour the UK. I am pleased to say that Minister Walker has responded positively to this suggestion and advised me that he has asked officials to explore the matter further.
“The public owns these artefacts. They should be able to see them and the centenary of Northern Ireland is the ideal time to put them on display.“As it stands, I am disappointed that the Commission has no plans to display these items next year and I trust that in the coming months they will revisit this matter, particularly now that a more significant display seems to be possible”.
Mr Allister has tabled the following written questions:
To ask the Assembly Commission what is the annual cost of storing Assembly artefacts and artwork off-site.
To ask the Assembly Commission to publish a full inventory and valuation of Assembly artefacts, including those (i) on display; and (ii) in storage including their valuation. To ask the Assembly Commission when the artefacts held by the Assembly were last valued.
To ask the Assembly Commission to put the Assembly artefacts and artwork currently in storage on public display to mark the centenary of the formation of Northern Ireland.
A list of the items held in 2017 is here.