Sinn Fein mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir gives Orangemen pride of place in Belfast City Hall parlour
Published 25/09/2013 | 13:00
Orangemen are now in the Sinn Fein Lord Mayor's Parlour. Republican Lord Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir has put a historic piece of Orange memorabilia on display in his inner sanctum at Belfast City Hall.
Two paintings on loan from the Ulster Museum were added to the space often used to host visitors last week.
Each image represents nationalist and unionist cultures.
Both pictures are by Belfast artist William Conor (1881-1968) – one is The Orangemen 1918 and the other is The Hurlers 1948.
The Orangemen 1918 shows members of the Orange Order wearing sashes and parading, playing flutes and drums.
The Sinn Fein mayor said he was "delighted to bring two great artistic treasures in to city hall as a gesture of mutual respect for the unionist and nationalist traditions of Belfast".
The lord mayor's theme for his year in office is 'Building the future Belfast – together'. Mr O Muilleoir has also confirmed he is supporting a British Legion request to illuminate the city hall in red on October 24 for the poppy appeal launch, in the interests of "building peace".
He said he had been involved in discussions with the legion for six months before he became lord mayor.
"Their aim is the same as mine, to remember the dead of the great war and the carnage and destruction that destroyed the cream of our manhood across this nation," he said.
The move to display the Orange Order painting in the parlour comes after a summer of turbulent violence in Belfast, when Orangemen were banned from walking past the Ardoyne shop-fronts in north Belfast on the Twelfth of July.
In December 2012, the council voted to fly the Union flag from the city hall only on designated days.
The mayor's parlour has often been at the centre of debate as new incumbents make their mark on the interior.
In 2011 a portrait of the Queen was replaced with a framed copy of the 1916 Proclamation by former Sinn Fein lord mayor Niall O Donnghaile, sparking fury among unionists.
In 2002 Sinn Fein Lord Mayor Alex Maskey caused a furore when he unveiled a tricolour alongside the Union flag in the parlour.
Mr O Muilleoir, who represents south Belfast, will serve as lord mayor until June 2014.
William Conor (1881-1968)
North Belfast artist William Conor is renowned for his crayon drawing and images of ordinary city people.
Conor is celebrated for his warm and sympathetic portrayals of working class life in Ulster.
He was an official war artist during both World Wars.
His work is in the Linen Hall Library and Ulster Folk and Transport Museum.
More than 50 of his crayon and watercolour drawings are held by the Ulster Museum.