THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: The Red Hand of Ulster is cast at Westminster

From the News Letter, December 18, 1958

By Darryl Armitage
Friday, 18th December 2020, 6:00 am
Westminster Bridge pictured here in 1928, it extends from the Houses of Parliament on the North side of the River to St. Thomas's Hospital on the Surrey side, and was built in 1869 at an approximate cost of £1,000,000. Picture: Wikimedia Commons
Westminster Bridge pictured here in 1928, it extends from the Houses of Parliament on the North side of the River to St. Thomas's Hospital on the Surrey side, and was built in 1869 at an approximate cost of £1,000,000. Picture: Wikimedia Commons

A dramatic challenge to the Government to solve Northern Ireland’s unemployment problems had been made at Westminster by Mrs Patricia McLaughlin (Unionist, West Belfast), reported the News Letter on this day in 1958.

Mrs McLaughlin had drawn red glove on her hand and holding up her hand in the Commons had said: “This is the Red Hand of Ulster. If any Government can solve the problem of Ulster it is this Government, and I throw down the challenge to them, can you, and will you, solve our problems?”

Mrs McLaughlin then cast down the glove on the bench behind her.

During the debate Mrs McLaughlin had told the House: “Long term unemployment is something we understand only too well in Northern Ireland.”

She added that with a growing population in the Province that more and more people were finding themselves out of work because of decline in both the agricultural and textile industries.

She continued: “We are a modest and hardworking people and I sometimes think it is because we do not shout loudly enough or hard enough that we do not get our needs attended to.”

A number of the Opposition members had interrupted Mrs McLaughlin as she spoke claiming that they could solve unemployment, but she had retorted: “It is no use saying you can solve it when you in Opposition when you could never solve it when you were in power.”