Belfast Telegraph

SDLP's Margaret Ritchie left red-faced after iPad spontaneously plays 'Jerusalem' at Westminster

Fellow MPs joke the Northern Ireland politician has cast her vote in English national anthem debate

By Claire Williamson

SDLP MP Margaret Ritchie appears to have accidentally had her say in England's new national anthem debate - after her iPad spontaneously began playing Jerusalem.

It happened during a meeting of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee in Westminster on Wednesday.

It came as MPs opened the debate on whether God Save the Queen should be replaced by a new English national anthem at sporting events.

God Save the Queen, the UK’s national anthem, is usually used to represent English teams and athletes during competitions.

The song Jerusalem, which was unofficially adopted as the English national anthem for England during the 2014 Delhi Commonwealth Games, is a firm favourite among members.

As Labour MP Angela Smith was drawing the meeting to a close - she was interrupted as Mrs Ritchie's iPad began playing the song with words by William Blake and music by Hubert Parry.

The Northern Ireland MP for south Down immediately passed her iPad behind her for someone to stop the music as she appeared to put her head in her hands in embarrassment while laughing at the blunder.

The rest of the Committee joined her by descending in to fits of laughter.

Meanwhile the Labour MP quipped: "I think that's Northern Ireland agreeing we should have an English national anthem.

"This has made my day."

The national anthem change could have serious implications in Northern Ireland.

Speaking previously Gareth Young, a member of Anthem for England, told the BBC: "It's a beautiful song and it actually mentions and is about England, unlike its competitors.

“People wrongly think it's a hymn and object to the fact it references a Middle Eastern city, but Jerusalem was actually a metaphor for a better place.”

Jerusalem lyrics

And did those feet in ancient time

Walk upon England's mountain green?

And was the holy Lamb of God

On England's pleasant pastures seen?

And did the countenance divine

Shine forth upon our clouded hills?

And was Jerusalem builded here

Among those dark satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold!

Bring me my arrows of desire!

Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!

Bring me my chariot of fire!

I will not cease from mental fight,

Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,

Till we have built Jerusalem

In England's green and pleasant land.

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