Grand Unionist Centenary Committee

Grand Unionist Centenary Committee

31st March 2010

Dr Ian Adamson OBE (Chair) 

Present – Stephen Gough/David Hagan/Keith Harbinson/Gary Blair/Anne Morrison Smyth/Christopher Harbinson/Dugald McCullough

Apologies – Brian Lacey/Christopher Stalford/Ian Paisley/Dawson Baillie/Jim Brownlee/David Campbell

Ian Adamson updated the meeting with regard to Craigavon House.  It has been put on the open market. Value £1 million.

Stephen Gough advised the meeting that the 36th Ulster Division Memorial Association has asked the First Minister for a meeting to discuss with him the future of Craigavon House.  He will keep the meeting advised of progress.

The following points were agreed that;

  • the march past of the 36th Ulster Division in 1915 will be added to the list of centenary events.  May 2015.
  • Carol Walker from the Somme Association and David Hume Orange Order should be invited to join the Committee.
  • Stephen Gough should contact Darwin Templeton of the Newsletter with a view to getting advice on going public with our plans.  Also a website to be set up.  John Quinlivan to be contacted.
  • Ian Adamson would meet with John Kennedy from the Irish government to discuss what assistance they could give us.
  • The paper produced by David Campbell was discussed and agreed in principal.  Ian Adamson took notes of the changes and the paper will be re-issued before being agreed.

The following sub committees were set up;

Balmoral Review

This to be led by Keith Harbinson and Jim Brownlee – the Loyal Orders

Ulster Day

This is to be led by the UUP/DUP

Formation of the UVF

36th Ulster Division Memorial Association


Gary Blair will lead on this.

City Hall March Past

Dugald McCullough and David Hagan will co-ordinate.

Battle of the Somme

Carol Walker will be asked to take this forward.


Christopher Harbinson and Anne Morrison-Smyth are tasked with what education subjects we will take forward.

Those chairing the Committees are to report back on progress at the May meeting and proposals must be inclusive for all.


There was discussion about producing a new Covenant for 2012.  One that give our community a new belief and direction as well as giving it something to unite behind.  Some attendees were concerned that the community might not be enthusiastic about our plans.  All agreed that we needed all to support the proposals and sell it to our various groups.

Next Meeting – 29th April @ 7.15.  Keith Harbinson  to ask the RBP to nominate an attendee.

 Addendum…Paper by David Campbell




The Officers of the Ulster Unionist Council have been considering how to mark the many centenaries of prominent events in the struggle against the third Home Rule Bill nearly one hundred years ago, and also how best the UUC archive from that period which is deposited with PRONI might be utilised. Recognising that Unionism is no longer represented by one Party or movement the UUC has established a Grand Unionist Centenary Committee drawn from all strands of Unionism to plan, co-ordinate and organise the centenary events. It is hoped that the Committee will be able to agree a core number of events and arrange an accompanying educational programme and methodology for maximising public awareness. 

Establishment of GUCC: 

The Committee comprises senior representatives of the following organisations and has been meeting since November, 2009: 

The Ulster Unionist Council

The Democratic Unionist Party

The Traditional Unionist Voice

The Progressive Unionist Party

The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland

The Independent Orange Order

The Apprentice Boys of Derry

The Somme Association

36th (Ulster) Division Memorial Associations

The Marching Bands 

Core Events: 

The Committee has agreed that the centenaries of the following core events should form the basis of the Committee’s work: 

  • Centenary of the Balmoral Review – April, 2011 
  • Centenary of the Ulster Covenant – September, 2012 
  • Centenary of the formation of the Ulster Volunteer Force – January, 2013 
  • Centenary of the Gun-running – April, 2014 
  • Centenary of the Outbreak of WWI (and formation of the 36th (Ulster) Division) – August, 2014 
  • Centenary of the Battle of the Somme – July, 2016

[It could be argued that the Committee should also take a longer term view and include the Centenary of the Armistice in 2018, and the Centenary of the formation of Northern Ireland in 2021] 

Other and local events will also be encouraged.

Organisation of Activities: 

It is envisaged that each centenary will be marked by a significant public demonstration with historical re-enactments where appropriate. The publication of historical literature/ educational resource material will be essential and the production of authorised commemorative souvenirs will provide an opportunity for significant fundraising. 

The GUCC will co-ordinate and be the ultimate organising authority for all events but it will clearly be essential to establish sub-committees to organise each individual event. It is suggested that co-ordinators are identified at an early stage and tasked with forming sub-committees and bringing forward specific plans of action within six months. 

Legacy Issues: 

It is clear from the first few meetings of the GUCC that members see its work as not merely organising a series of events but reawakening the wider Unionist community to knowledge of its heritage and providing a focus for the entire Unionist family to begin to heal wounds of division and start to work constructively together. To that end there are a number of legacy objectives:

  • Public awareness of the great events of 100 years ago 
  • Ensure that our schoolchildren are made aware of these events as core events in our history and instrumental milestones in the establishment of Northern Ireland 
  • Provide an ongoing awareness through the restoration of Craigavon House and the provision of a museum of Unionism.


It is clear that the Committee will require some form of professional servicing in order to achieve delivery of its objectives. This should form the basis of any initial request for funding to Government or other bodies. The following core cadre is suggested together with an initial budget: 

Director                                                    £     30,000

Project Officer                                                20,000

Administrative Officer                                    15,000

Nat Ins and other costs                                   10,000 

Office rent and assoc. costs                            30,000 

Travel and misc expenses                               15,000 

Total                                                              120,000 

Please note that this budget includes no provision for actual project costs. It would be a core function of the Director to identify possible funding avenues for each individual commemoration. 

Although Craigavon House requires restoration it may be possible to provide a modest suite of offices (Dr Adamson to enquire). This would clearly be a fitting location for the Committee to function from. 

Identification of resource provision:

The advice and guidance of the Minister for DCAL will be essential. There is also a tentative offer of support from the Irish Government. This should be explored as a matter of urgency. In theory, if we could secure £ 60,000 per annum from each government for an initial three-year period we would be off to a good start. 

Next Steps: 

If members are broadly content with this paper I would suggest the following next steps: 

  • Identify co-ordinators for each event and ask each to establish a sub-committee (drawn from each organisation on GUCC) and bring forward a comprehensive plan within six months 

I suggest two other Committees: 

  • Education Committee – this will be responsible for co-ordinating and preparing all educational materials and publications to accompany the events. I suggest it is also tasked with liaising with Schools, PRONI, the Museums, the media and broadcasters to identify what each will do in support of the events [Co-ordinator required to be identified] 
  • Finance Committee – this will co-ordinate the finances of GUCC, fundraise, act as the employing authority for the project staff, identify and commission appropriate commemorative items [if agreeable I would be content to co-ordinate this Committee and engage with the DCAL Minister as he suggested at the last meeting]

I also suggest an early tour of Craigavon House and engagement with the Board of Trustees of the Somme Association to discuss how the Committee’s plans for the House could be taken forward. 


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