Stormont 1950

Stormont 1950      (Extract from Memoir,  Labhrás.Ó Nualláin)
           I had received an official ticket, thanks to Dr. Hickey’s persistence, for me to enter the Chamber of the House of Commons Northern Ireland. .

Stormont Parliament Building

Stormont Parliament Building

Government Buildings, Stormont is certainly an impressive looking structure, well sited in high rolling countryside, some four miles out from the city, a building of no great architectural beauty, perhaps, but of a size well calculated to over-awe the natives and to reduce them to a fitting appreciation of their non-importance in the scheme of things.
Northern Unionist M.P.s
The Commons Debating Chamber is well designed, admirably ventilated, soberly furnished yet attractively decorated.  But an air of unreality hung over all.  From the moment of entrance of the Speaker, wigged and gowned, preceded by the Mace Bearer, I personally, got the impression of a Colonial Assembly in the time of the Hanoverians.  As the Unionist members filed into the Chamber, this impression was heightened.  Here were the Tories of Eighteenth Century Ireland, dark, dour and stolid looking men, mostly of heavy build, men of strong prejudices, of deep passions, not given to flights of fancy, distrustful of rhetorical passages, men confident in the knowledge that they were secure in the saddle. I could almost hear the clank of metal and the jingle of spurs as they settled down in their seats.
Looking across to the Opposition benches, with their five or six lonely looking occupants, Mr. Jack Beatty being the solitary Labour representative, I shared in their feeling of frustration and despair.  It did seem to be a hopeless task to struggle against that solid mass across the floor, to attempt to reason with or to seek justice from a body of men determined to yield “Not An Inch”.  It really did not seem to matter whether the Opposition attended or abstained. The show would go on.  The motions of democracy at work would be gone through dutifully for the record.
The business of the House that day was of a non-contentious nature; a private matter dealing with cruelty to animals. Three of the Ministers, Mrs. Parker, Mr. McGuinness and Mr. McCleery answered questions.  Topping, Minford, Neill, Lord Glentoran, McManaway, and Faulkner spoke to the motion. I had read, in Hansard, all the speeches made by these men during the course of the previous ten years; and for me, it was particularly interesting to see these men in the flesh and study them at close quarters. Alas, their spoken words were every bit as depressing and uninspiring as their printed speeches.
In a United Ireland, these men would be thrust aside and new, vigorous leaders of Protestant opinion would assuredly take their place.  An alert, well informed, capable and virile Opposition, small though it might be, could, despite crippling limitations, lead them a merry dance and even extract from the machinery of State, a measure of justice and fair treatment for their supporters.
©  L.O’Nualláin

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