An Easter Rising commemoration at Stormont was not an appropriate use of Parliament Buildings and should not have been allowed to proceed, Jim Allister has claimed.
Commenting on Wednesday’s Sinn Fein organised event in the Long Gallery, the TUV leader said the 1916 rebellion has been used, “and continues to be used to justify the IRA campaign and ongoing republican terrorism”.
Mr Allister said: “There should be no question of an event of this nature taking place at Stormont.
“The key question here is which unionist foolishly agreed to sign the form which has enabled Sinn Fein to have this event?
“In order to have events like this it is necessary for three MLAs to sponsor it – one of which must be a unionist and one of which must be a nationalist.
“Just yesterday we had a shocking demonstration of what terrorism can do in a major European city.
“The 1916 Rising stands in that tradition of terrorism. Indeed, the rebels used language of ‘blood sacrifice’ which wouldn’t be out of place in today’s conflict with terrorism.”
On Wednesday night South Down MLA John McCallister said he was the unionist who consented to the Sinn Fein event going ahead.
“I recently arranged for the UDR Association to be have an event in Parliament Buildings. Without a sponsoring nationalist MLA – who without doubt does not share my views on the sterling service of the UDR – this would not have happened,” he said.
“The same principles apply to the event commemorating the Easter Rising. A unionist signatory was required. If one had not been found, the consequences would have been obvious – nationalist MLAs would have refused to sponsor events that have a particular importance and significance to the unionist tradition. For anyone to claim that this would have been a good outcome for unionism beggars belief.
“I’m a unionist and a monarchist. Precisely because of this, I have no qualms about being a signatory for this event – I am very confident that the leaders of the Rising would regard it as an abject failure of their project for republicans in 2016 to celebrate the Easter Rising in a devolved assembly within the United Kingdom, standing for the very constitutional settlement opposed by the Rising.
“And I am convinced that it makes us more British, not less, when we embody the best of the United Kingdom’s Parliamentary tradition – in this case, ensuring that Parliament Buildings is open to all, even when we profoundly disagree with them.”
Mr McCallister added: “There is another key principle at stake here. Unionism has to call republicans out on the myth that Northern Ireland is not a fair society, embracing all political traditions.
“The very fact that republicans can commemorate their political tradition in the Parliament Buildings is proof that Northern Ireland within the Union is working, with fairness and tolerance for all.
“That is a good outcome for a confident, inclusive unionism.”