Northern Ireland news

New twist in long-running saga of House of Commons bust of Oliver Cromwell

The historic bust of Oliver Cromwell was pointedly turned to face the wall

THE long-running saga of a bust of `Butcher of Drogheda' Oliver Cromwell has escalated, with a tamper alarm installed to stymie a Labour MP's year-long protest.

Veteran Labour backbencher Stephen Pound had been battling with his own whips over the artwork, which was located outside the Members' Tea Room in the House of Commons.

Initially anonymous, Mr Pound was surreptitiously turning the late Lord Protector to face the wall, with his party's whips initially leading the restoration efforts by turning it back.

Commons officials have now reportedly taken matters into their own hands and moved the bust and installed an alarm - an action described by some parliamentarians as an "panicked over-reaction".

It has moved to 1 Parliament Street - near Mr Pound's office, with the MP telling MailOnline: "The butcher turned up on my doorstep... His butcher stare gets me every morning when I come in."

He vowed to continue his campaign.

"They have put a tremble alarm on it. I don't know about health and safety, but he had better watch out for his health and safety."

A House of Common's spokesman said: "In common with museums and galleries, individuals on the Parliamentary Estate are asked not to touch any statues, paintings or other works of art on display, due to the risk of damage to the artworks.

"Anyone found to be doing so will be reminded of the rules."

Parlimentarians have long reviled Cromwell, who may have been anti-monarchy but was no democrat.

After leading the parliamentary armies to victory over Charles I in the English Civil War, he found himself in sympathy with his erstwhile enemy's dislike of the institution and closed it down.

The slaughter at Drogheda and Wexford in 1649 are regarded as among the greatest atrocities in Anglo-Irish history, with Cromwell regarded as guilty of war crimes, religious persecution and ethnic cleansing.

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