Northern Ireland news

Coins, Belfast cabinet meeting and huge garden party among TUV proposals for north's centenary celebrations

The TUV would like to see Queen Elizabeth address the assembly as part of the north's centenary celebrations next year. Picture by Peter Morrison/PA Wire

A specially minted commemorative coin for schoolchildren and a remembrance event for security force personnel at London's Royal Albert Hall are among proposals put forward by the TUV to mark the centenary of Northern Ireland next year.

The party's plans were outlined by leader Jim Allister at a meeting on Monday with Northern Ireland Office Minister of State Robin Walker.

A press release said Mr Allister had stressed to the minister that "these events were about celebrating Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom and therefore, they were not an occasion to be muddied by Dublin involvement".

The Northern Antrim MLA said next year should be a "national celebration" because it marked not just the creation of the north as political entity but also "the UK as presently constituted".

He has called for Whitehall to organise the centenary celebrations because "if left to the Stormont executive they would be neutered by the pernicious Sinn Féin veto".

Arguing the case for a "specially commissioned logo to brand and promote all events", the TUV is proposing a visit by Queen Elizabeth during which she would address the Stormont assembly, coupled with a "large scale garden party".

The Union flag would fly on all public buildings on "each key date", while there would be an additional public holiday "in or about May 3", Mr Allister has suggested.

His other proposals include: a "Red Arrows fly past and visit of leading Royal Navy vessels"; a specially minted commemorative coin, presented to every schoolchild alongside "centenary specific classroom materials"; and a British government cabinet meeting in Belfast, with an accompanying prime ministerial "promotional visits to key tourist attractions".

Mr Allister would also like to see an exhibition at London's National Portrait Gallery featuring leading figures from Northern Ireland "sports, military, arts, politics etc", which would then tour Britain and the north.

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