NI centenary programme will champion young people of the future, says PM

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Northern Ireland’s centenary programme marking the anniversary of the state’s foundation will champion young people of the future, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

It will also pay tribute to those who worked tirelessly to support the region during the pandemic, he added.

Plans for 2021 include a major business showcase in London, a £1 million Shared History Fund, an ambitious programme for young people, tree-planting projects, academic and historic events and an international church service for all denominations.

“Our centenary programme will reflect on the past and on the people and developments that make Northern Ireland the great place it is today.”

Nationalists and unionists hold sharply differing views of the history of Northern Ireland: on its past governance and public representation; the security situation including decades of conflict; seismic events like the Second World War or the civil rights movement; over issues like public housing, freedom to demonstrate and equal voter representation.

The Prime Minister also acknowledged contemporary themes.

He said: “The activities will pay tribute to all those who have worked tirelessly to support Northern Ireland throughout the pandemic and will champion the incredible young people in Northern Ireland who offer so much to the shared success of our UK.”

An extensive young people’s programme will explore what the future will look like in the next 100 years (Niall Carson/PA)

A total of £1 million has been awarded to 39 community projects to research and demonstrate what 100 years of Northern Ireland has meant to them and their community.

Belfast City Council will host an event at the City Hall marking the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Northern Ireland Parliament in the building on June 22 1921, by King George V.

Every school will be presented with a native tree to plant in their grounds.

They will be encouraged to video their planting ceremony and upload what the Government said was their moment in marking the centenary and working towards a greener future.

An extensive young people’s programme will explore what the future will look like in the next 100 years.

The “Centenary Rose”, a flower the Government said would represent reflection and hope, will be produced in Northern Ireland and planted in the gardens of the royal residence at Hillsborough Castle in Co Down.

A Centenary Rose will be presented to the Queen for her own garden and there will be a decorative rose pin designed and produced in the UK, to be worn by VIPs at centenary events and given to programme participants.

An international church service for all denominations will be held in the autumn, followed by a reception at Hillsborough Castle.

On the same day historic buildings across the UK will be lit to signify a bright future for all.

London will host a Northern Ireland 2021 Business Showcase.

Companies and organisations from across the region will promote their products, services and expertise while meeting representatives from international companies, governments and investors.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said: “The UK Government’s centenary programme of events provides an opportunity for us all to reflect on the history of Northern Ireland and to take pride in all this fantastic place has to offer the UK and the world.

“In its 100th year, the people of Northern Ireland can build on their spirit of togetherness and recognise their enormous achievements over past decades.

“I hope that these projects and events will help drive Northern Ireland’s post-Covid recovery forward, inspire the next generation and showcase to the world the beauty, innovation and tenacity of the people of Northern Ireland.”

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