Stormont is to be bathed in green light for St Patrick’s Day and orange light for the Twelfth, as part of a programme to mark key dates in the Province’s calendar.
It was announced on Thursday that Stormont’s parties have agreed to illuminate the facade of Parliament Buildings on a number of occasions throughout the year, following the example of Belfast City Hall which regularly changes colour for significant dates in the calendar.
It comes after a number of calls for it to be included in the raft of worldwide buildings which turn green for St Patrick’s Day; a call which was backed by the News Letter.
Drew Nelson, Grand Secretary of the Orange Order, told the paper on Thursday: “The Orange Institution welcomes the decision to illuminate Parliament Buildings in orange light at the Twelfth. Though this may seem a minor matter, it is a recognition of Northern Ireland’s Orange cultural heritage.”
The Assembly Commission, which is made of representatives of the five main Executive parties, has also agreed to turn Stormont purple to mark International Women’s Day on March 9 and red for Remembrance Day on November 11.
A limited number of additional days each year will also be considered by the Commission on request from charitable, community or non-profit organisations or in relation to specific events.
Mairtín O Muilleoir, the former Lord Mayor of Belfast and now co-oped Sinn Fein assemblyman for the south of the city, also suggested it could be illuminated for gay pride too.
Speaking on Radio Ulster, he said: “Obviously it wasn’t possible to get that through the commission at this stage... let’s take the gain, let’s bank the gain and build for more inclusion, for more optimism, for more positivity.”
However, the show was told that the building only has the capability to shine single colours at a time.
Speaker of the Assembly and chair of the Assembly Commission, Mitchel McLaughlin, said: “As the home of the Assembly, Parliament Buildings should set a lead in demonstrating respect to all sections of our community.
“I therefore commend the very constructive role Assembly Commission members have played in reaching consensus on this list of days on which the building will be lit containing days which will be of more or less significance to every party.
“The fact that on these days ‘the house on the hill’ will be seen lit up from miles around will I hope send a positive message of the agreement that is possible and that deserves credit.”
However, the show was told that they only have the capability to shine single colours at a time.
The other members of the commission are the DUP’s Peter Weir, Sinn Fein’s Caitriona Ruane, Ulster Unionist Sam Gardiner, the SDLP’s Pat Ramsey and Alliance’s Judith Cochrane.
Sinn Fein MLA Caitríona Ruane said in a statement: “There will also be the possibility to add additional dates to light up Stormont to mark other occasions.
“I welcome this as a good start and look forward to the future rolling out of this scheme to create an inclusive environment for everyone.”