Statement by TUV leader Jim Allister:
“I have been interested in getting the dust covers off the historic artefacts held by the Assembly and getting them on public display for a considerable time. I first started asking questions about the matter over six years ago in January 2012. I sought to establish what exactly the Northern Ireland Assembly holds in storage in terms of artwork and items of public interest and, after getting clarity on that, have sought to facilitate the public viewing of the same. Included in “off-site storage” are items such as a ceremonial sword, a Model of Thiepval Tower, a collection of clerks’ uniforms and portraits of former Prime Ministers JM Andrews and Lord Craigavon.
“I have repeatedly pressed the Commission to put these items on public display and while I believed that initially the response was going to be favourable this has proved not to be the case.
“That said, in response to a recent Assembly question I have been advised that the Commission “agreed to provide an opportunity for MLAs and journalists to view the artefacts, artwork and furniture that is currently held in off-site storage. Accordingly, an invitation to view these items will be extended shortly to MLAs and journalists.”
“I look forward to viewing the items with the press but am deeply disappointed that the public are to be denied the opportunity see artefacts which are part of the history of Northern Ireland. The Commission needs to explain why it has been dragging its feet on this issue until now and why it still isn’t allowing the public to see items which are hidden away in warehouses at taxpayers’ expense. In June 2017 I was advised that the cost relating to storage for both artefacts and furniture from 2011 to present was £76,715.81 – almost £13,000 per annum.
“It’s long past time that people got to see what their money is being spent on to keep hidden”.
You can view the relevant question and answer here http://aims.niassembly.gov.uk/questions/printquestionsummary.aspx?docid=289361