BBC News

Covid-proofed events and coin for NI centenary

By Mark Devenport
BBC News NI Political Editor

Published
image copyrightMirrorpix/Getty Images
image captionCrowds gathered outside Belfast City Hall in June 1921 for the opening of the Northern Ireland parliament

The government is planning events in NI, Great Britain and further afield to commemorate the centenary of the creation of Northern Ireland.

A draft document includes a suggestion for a special anniversary coin.

The document, seen by the BBC, said a stamp is not considered appropriate.

A discussion at Queen's University, an event at Belfast City Hall and a service of reflection and reconciliation somewhere in Great Britain all feature in the proposals.

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There are suggestions for involving young people, the arts and the diaspora - people with Northern Ireland links living around the world.

These ideas may evolve, depending on feedback from a recently convened centenary forum.

The draft also notes that every element will have to be Covid-proofed.

Both a centenary coin and a postmark are being actively explored, but the document states that stamps are not considered appropriate, as these normally feature pop-culture references.

Northern Ireland was created in May 1921 following the partition of Ireland.

image copyrightBrian Lawless/PA
image captionBoris Johnson discussed NI's centenary with Michelle O'Neill and Arlene Foster at Hillsborough Castle in August

The first session of a forum announced by Mr Johnson to help commemorate the centenary took place via video conference in September.

It was chaired by senior Northern Ireland Office (NIO) civil servants and included a range of community representatives.

The five main parties were invited to take part, but it is understood only the DUP, UUP and Alliance attended.

Civil servants said it was their understanding nationalists wanted to play a role in 1921 commemorations.

While neither Sinn Féin nor the SDLP participated in the forum's first session, a NIO official told those present both nationalist parties would be welcome to get involved.

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