STORMONT (Parliament Buildings)

Parliament Buildings, Stormont

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Description

The Parliament Buildings at Stormont in Belfast, is the seat of the Northern Ireland Assembly. It previously housed the defunct Parliament of Northern Ireland. The need for a separate parliament building for Northern Ireland emerged with the creation of the Northern Ireland Home Rule region in the Government of Ireland Act 1920. After the shelving of plans to build a ‘Ministerial Building’, the headquarters of government was in effect Stormont Castle, a baronial castellated house in the grounds and which was originally meant to have been demolished to make way for the ‘Ministerial Building’. Stormont Castle served as the official residence of the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland and was the meeting place for the Northern Ireland cabinet. Another residence, Stormont House served as the official residence of the Speaker of the House of Commons of Northern Ireland. The reduced plans saw the High Court eventually built in Belfast city centre, and two extra levels being added to Parliament Buildings to serve as extra office space required after the loss of the Ministerial Building. Two separate chambers were provided in the finished parliamentary complex, the blue-benched rectangular House of Commons of Northern Ireland (green benches as at Westminster being considered inappropriate) and the red-benched smaller rectangular Senate of Northern Ireland. In the main hall, called the Great Hall, a large gold-plated chandelier was hung. It was a gift from King George V and had originally hung in Windsor Castle, where it had been a gift of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. The Kaiser’s chandelier had been removed from Windsor and placed in storage during World War I. It was never hung in Windsor again. The painting The Entry of King William into Ireland, a gift from the Dutch government to its Northern Ireland counterpart, was hung in the House of Commons when it opened. However, it was removed after having been defaced by a Scottish preacher, who had travelled from Scotland for that express purpose. The reason for his anger was that the painting also showed the Pope, who had blessed William’s enterprise. The building itself changed little over the years, even as the parliaments meeting inside it did. To camouflage it during World War II, the building’s Portland stone was painted with supposedly removable “paint” made of bitumen and cow manure. However, after the war, removing the paint proved an enormous difficulty, with the paint having scarred the stonework. It took seven years to remove the ‘paint’, and the exterior façade has never regained its original white colour. While most traces of it were removed from the façades (though having done damage that can be seen up close), some of the remains of the paint survive in the inner courtyards and unseen parts of the place.

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Additional information

Weight 50 g
Dimensions 400 × 50 × 15 mm
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