[This column first published in the News Letter on Friday June 04.]
Last week, I referred to criticism over what Nelson McCausland believes is a lack of Orange Order and Creationism displays at the Ulster Museum. That was the case for the prosecution.
This week we hear the case for the defence.
Firstly, if you think that the Minister received only criticism from the media, you’d be wrong. Over at The Minister’s Pen, Nelson re-posts favourable stuff from Alf McCreary and Eamonn Mallie. According to @EamonnMallie: “We must all learn to be a broad church in NI. I would like to know and be exposed to manifestations of Ulster Scots even in [a] Museum.”
But it’s that lack of exposure which goes to the heart of Nelson’s grievance. He blogs:
“One of the disappointments in the refurbished Ulster Museum is the way in which the Ulster-Scots community and Ulster-Scots culture have been airbrushed out of the exhibits… I have visited the Ulster Museum several times and have yet to find even the term Ulster-Scots on any of the exhibits.”
As a result, Nelson thinks the Ulster Museum might now be in breach of The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. The Minister helpfully adds that his department chairs the governmental group tasked with implementing of charter. Sorry Ulster Museum, but this isn’t going away y’know.
And finally, when ex-DUP councillor Deirdre Nelson told ‘Seven Days’ listeners that a minority group like the Orange Order should just stick to its own Museum at Schomberg House, Nelson hit back at her “bizarre argument”. The existence of Schomberg House “could not justify the exclusion of any Orange Order artefacts from the Ulster Museum”, he said.
Moving on, and while the absence of the Orange Order in cultural institutions might irk some, the Order’s opining on political institutions certainly irritates others. A recent speech by Robert Saulters on unionist unity has drawn heavy fire from Chekov at Three Thousand Versts.
He blogs: “As an historical remnant the Orange Order could, one day, even become quaint, but as an organisation aspiring to play an active role in unionist politics, it has absolutely nothing positive to offer.”
Ouch. Also on the subject of Unionist Unity, Jeff Peel’s Diary thinks this week’s BBC ‘Spotlight’ programme was revealing – but not in a good way for unionists.
“The programme seemed to reach the conclusion that the Unionist brand was dying. In short unionist unity is hardly worth the effort when no-one – least of all the DUP and UUP – seem to know what unionism means any more. The electorate is none the wiser either.”
Similarly, Lee at Ultonia is worried about the quality of the unity debate and some of the ideas being expressed. He reckons the contribution of one News Letter columnist (Alex Kane) “truly sums up the worst of the debate”, as it veers into “conspiracy theory” territory.
“Unionism overall might also be better off if its commentators didn’t try to kill a potentially useful debate because of a burden of history and perception or simply list problems but rather engage in creative thinking about possible solutions,” blogs Lee.
But unity isn’t the only debate taking place within the confines of Unionism. A Tangled Web reports breaking news from “a major gathering” of folk in Mid Ulster. The big scoop?
“No surrender. TUV fights on!”