Signatories sought for new online Ulster covenant to mark centenary of Northern Ireland

Unionists are being called upon to sign a 2021 version of the historic Ulster Covenant to mark Northern Ireland’s centenary.

Thursday, 18th March 2021, 7:00 am
An actor playing Edward Carson re-enacts the signing of the 1912 Ulster Covenant at Belfast City Hall in 2012
An actor playing Edward Carson re-enacts the signing of the 1912 Ulster Covenant at Belfast City Hall in 2012

The initiative is the brainchild of the Ancre Somme Association in Lurgan, which is helping to produce material celebrating a full century since Irish partition brought the state into being.

The new ‘covenant’ is online, and people are asked to fill in their details on the following webpage:

www.ni100.org.uk

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The Somme association formed a NI 100 Centenary Committee specifically to draw up materials relating to the Province’s 100th birthday.

One of the chief organisers, Lexi Davidson, said the move is quite timely, since many unionists believe that the Province’s place in the UK is currently in jeopardy.

Mr Davidson said some people almost seem to be “apologetic that Northern Ireland existed, rather than celebrating the fact”.

“The wording is very apt for today,” he said.

“There are a lot of people out there that feel we are being pulled away from the rest of the UK.”

He added that signing the document does not signify support for any particular party, but rather it is a case of “pledging support for Queen and country”.

The wording of the anniversary covenant differs slightly from the wording of the original 1912 one.

For example, the original began: “Being convinced in our consciences that Home Rule would be disastrous to the material well-being of Ulster as well as of the whole of Ireland, subversive of our civil and religious freedom, destructive of our citizenship, and perilous to the unity of the Empire...”

Instead the new one begins: “Conscious of the forces at work for the overthrow of the Province and Parliament of Northern Ireland, and convinced that any further interference in or undermining of the internal jurisdiction of the democratically-elected government of Northern Ireland would be subversive of our civil and religious freedom and disastrous to our material well-being...”

Both covenants end with pledges not to accept a unified Ireland.

Among other things, the centenary committee is also working to draw up teaching resources – both pamphlets and online – for teachers who want to raise the centenary in the classroom.

Mr Davidson said they will focus on a number of Northern Irish people who made names for themselves as inventors or scientists, like James Martin, a pioneer of the ejector seat.

He also said that the religious affiliation of the people they have selected could be Catholic or Protestant, because their community background is “totally irrelevant”.

“A lot of people focus on sports and entertainers, but if you look at some of the sciences we’ve maybe half-a-dozen who have achieved things across the world,” he said.

Another project they are working on is the creation of a bust of Lord Craigavon, the first Prime Minister of NI.

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