Portraits of Eamon de Valera and Michael Collins back on show at Stormont but where is the Queen asks TUV’s Jim Allister

The absence of a portrait of the Queen at Stormont and the presence of photographs of Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams opposite an IRA murder victim has angered TUV leader Jim Allister.

By Graeme Cousins
Thursday, 24th March 2022, 10:14 am

It comes as a collection of items have been brought out of storage for permanent display at Parliament Buildings.

They include a portrait of Northern Ireland’s first prime minister James Craig, former taoiseach Eamon De Valera and republican leader Michael Collins.

There are also portraits of the first female cabinet minister, Dehra Chichester, ceremonial maces from the original Northern Ireland Parliament and the Indenture for the Stormont Estate.

Historian Dr Eamon Phoenix with Speaker of the Assembly and Chairperson of the Assembly Commission, Alex Maskey MLA, viewing the 'The Pope, the Prince and the Painting' at the launch of the Northern Ireland Assembly Commission new permanent display of items and images in Parliament Buildings

TUV leader Jim Allister has fought to have the dust covers removed from Stormont’s historical artefacts but is shocked by some of the items that are being displayed prominently.

He said: “Having challenged the Assembly Commission repeatedly over many years about the hiding away of Stormont’s history in a warehouse I welcome the fact that some of the dustsheets have been thrown off.

“At long last the beautiful portraits of former Prime Ministers are now, finally, back out on show in the building. Now that they are in their rightful place I have no doubt that many will question why they were ever concealed for so long.

“Important figures from Northern Ireland’s history also feature. Nationalist leader Joe Devlin and Sir Henry Wilson, who was a senior officer in the First World War and security adviser to the first government of Northern Ireland before his murder by the IRA in 1922, are on display.

TUV leader Jim Allister beside a portrait of Northern Ireland’s first prime minister James Craig at Stormont

“Why a portrait of the man who allegedly ordered the murder, Michael Collins, is just round the corner from where Sir Henry Wilson’s now hangs is less easy to determine. Including portraits of Collins and de Valera who never stood in Stormont is a questionable decision which reeks of pandering.”

Mr Allister said: “The greatest mistake in my mind is putting photographs which feature Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams opposite the memorial to Edgar Graham. Doing so insults the memory of an innocent victim of the IRA campaign.

“While there have been questionable additions, an important omission a portrait of Her Majesty the Queen. One is owned by Stormont and 2022, being Her Platinum Jubilee year, would have been the ideal time to have it back out on show where it belongs.”

‘Parliament Buildings – a Journey of People, Politics and Peacebuilding’ was officially launched on last night following a review of artefacts by the Assembly Commission.

Speaker Alex Maskey said: “Since the creation of the Assembly in 1998, there has been much discussion and debate about the items that are, or should be, displayed in Parliament Buildings.

“I am pleased that we will now have a permanent collection of images and items on display that will depict key political figures and events from over the years.

“It is also important that this project has attempted to tell the story of our political institutions and reflect the breadth and diversity of political views here.”

Parliament Buildings will be open for public tours and viewing the display from Monday, March 28.

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