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Northern Ireland: 100-Year Anniversary

Volume 681: debated on Wednesday 30 September 2020

In August, the Prime Minister visited Northern Ireland, announcing the establishment of a centenary forum and centenary historical advisory panel, ensuring that we listen to diverse perspectives as we create a bold and ambitious centenary programme. As well as being the centenary of Northern Ireland, it is the centenary of the United Kingdom as we know it today. We are committed to delivering our programme that will allow the public to engage with the history of the centenary while supporting Northern Ireland businesses and its tourism industry, and promoting Northern Ireland on the world stage.

Does my hon. Friend agree that next year’s important anniversary for the UK as we know it today is also a fantastic opportunity to mark Northern Ireland’s future and its diverse people, business and culture?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and it is an opportunity to look ahead towards a bright and prosperous future for Northern Ireland. It is a chance for people across the British Isles and abroad to celebrate the progress made while showcasing the people and places that I have so enjoyed getting to know since my appointment last year.

The Minister will be aware that I put a written proposal to the Treasury about a commemorative celebratory coin for Northern Ireland in its 100th anniversary year. Perhaps the Minister will take the opportunity to elaborate on what progress has been made on that celebratory coin for our nation, and will he elaborate on what the Treasury has told me, which is that the Government will use this opportunity to promote Northern Ireland on the world stage and celebrate its people, culture, traditions and enterprise because we have made such a vital contribution to this United Kingdom?

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman and I are in firm agreement that we should mark this historical centenary in a way that facilitates national recognition and international awareness. Specifically regarding a commemorative coin, this is a matter for the Treasury. It is a proposal that I have shared with ministerial colleagues previously, and I am very happy to explore it with them further. On the international dimension, he is absolutely right. We will be working with the Department for International Trade and our colleagues at the Foreign Office to ensure that promoting Northern Ireland around the world is an opportunity that is taken during this centenary.