The Unionist Centenary Committee was established in 2010 to take forward a ‘Decade of Unionist Centenaries’.
The Committee is made up of a cross section of the Unionist family, including politicians, loyal orders, the marching bands and a range of community based organisations such as the 36th (Ulster) Division Memorial Association.
We have been supported in our work by a range of funders including HLF, CRC, Belfast City Council, Awards for All and DFAT.
The guidelines upon which the UCC or its stakeholders organise an event are as follows;
- Commemorations are to be based on fact.
- Communities should develop evidence based activities which give people an in depth understanding after considering what the broader implications are of their event.
- Recognise and respecting different perceptions/impacts.
- Work towards outcomes which provide a better understanding for all.
Throughout the process the Committee has been keen to consult with the Unionist community to ensure that what we do is something that they can buy into. Workshops have been arranged, meetings with the churches and political leaders have also been held.
Recognising the importance of outreach on our shared history the Committee has extended invitations to events and will continue to do so. We have developed an exciting and effective relationship with Glasnevin Cemetery Museum. It is something we intend to continue to do as we explore events leading up to the partition of Ireland and the impact that had on people who all of a sudden found themselves living near an international border.
What worked well and what, if anything, didn't?
What worked well and what, if anything, didn’t?
Most if not all events held to mark Unionist Centenaries have proved successful. We have received positive feedback from within the Unionist family, from funders, from politicians and the police.
We have staged parades, re-enactments, drama, exhibitions and concerts. For each we have a separate Facebook page, comment books and of course internal reviews after every event. It’s essential that we complete a lessons learned exercise after an event so that we can learn from our mistakes to make the next event bigger and better.
Four areas we need to improve upon are;
- Our relationship with the media
- To include more females in our decision making process
- In liaison with experts develop our use of the computer environment which should in turn attract or appeal to the younger generations
- Attracting more resources to take the pressure of our volunteers who work tirelessly to stage events.
The Unionist Centenary Committee is proud of what it has achieved to date. Before the centenaries commenced there was a significant section of the media who portrayed events in an entirely negative manner. Their fears failed to materialise as potential difficult hurdles were overcome one by one through hard work, using the four principles as guidelines and keeping the community involved so that all could enjoy the events in a friendly and family environment free from any intimidation and fear.
The UCC will continue to work to promote our culture in a positive manner and educate, thereby removing myths and easing tensions.