McCausland Ulster-Scots and creation in museums call

Nelson McCausland The culture minister is a long-time supporter of Ulster-Scots culture

The culture minister has asked museums to give more prominence to Ulster-Scots, the Orange Order and alternative views on the origin of the universe.

Nelson McCausland wrote to the trustees of National Museums Northern Ireland (NMNI) saying he wants the issues given consideration in the short term.

The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) said it was part of its commitment to a shared future strategy.

It is understood National Museums NI has not yet responded to the letter.

Speaking on Wednesday, Mr McCausland said: "There are a range of perspectives and I want simply to have in there consideration given to reflecting the diversity of views in Northern Ireland.

"It's also in fact a human rights issue and an equality issue because culture rights, the rights of people in Northern Ireland, should be implemented."

In the letter, Mr McCausland said he believes his department and the trustees "share a common desire to ensure that museums are reflective of the views, beliefs and cultural traditions that make up society in Northern Ireland."

He says National Museums' contribution to the shared future agenda can best be achieved by "practical measures".

Among these measures are consideration of how best to recognise the role of the Grand Lodge of Ireland and other fraternal organisations.

Exhibition

He specifically mentions the "Plantation to Power Sharing" exhibition which is currently on at the Ulster Museum and suggests that the trustees should consider changes to the exhibition before the summer months.

In terms of Ulster-Scots, Mr McCausland wrote that the local history exhibition should recognise the contribution of the Hamilton Montgomery Settlement, considered to be the most important event in Ulster-Scots history.

The issue of the origin of the universe and the different theories explaining it was previously raised by Mr McCausland's DUP assembly colleague Mervyn Storey.

He said that he wanted the views of creationists - the concept of God creating the universe in contrast to the scientific theory of evolution - to be represented in the exhibitions.

Without specifically mentioning creationism, Mr McCausland's letter includes a request for the trustees to consider how alternative views of the origin of the universe can be recognised and accomodated.

In a statement, DCAL said it welcomed the discussions on the NMNI's potential contribution to the shared future agenda and was awaiting a response.

Meanwhile, SDLP culture spokesman Thomas Burns said it was "a mark of a liberal society that its cultural institutions should be free of party-political interference".

"Any attempt to politicise public spaces or dictate to cultural institutions is a serious threat to our hopes of a shared society and should be resolutely resisted," he said.

Sinn Fein's Barry McElduff criticised Mr McCausland's letter as "wholly unacceptable".

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