Stormont's '1801 Act of Union' table 'no longer historic,' say Northern Ireland civil servants
A table upon which it was believed the Act of Union was signed is no longer regarded as an historic artefact, it can be revealed.
The so-called Act of Union Table is owned by the Northern Ireland Assembly and is kept in storage.
TUV leader Jim Allister has been pressing the Assembly Commission for a number of years to bring the table out of storage and place it on public display.
However, now the Commission has told Mr Allister that it no longer believes the table has any connection with the Act of Union, which was signed in 1801 and effectively created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
It scrapped the then Irish Parliament and saw the entire island ruled directly from Westminster.
In response to an Assembly Question from Mr Allister the Assembly Commission said it cannot confirm any link between the table and the historic Act.
"The table referred to in previous inventories of artefacts as the 'Act of the Union Table' is currently held in off-site storage," the Assembly Commission responded. "Based on the table's style and age, the Assembly Commission has been unable to confirm that the table in question has any such link and, as such, it is no longer considered as an artefact.
"The table will remain in storage. Should any additional information about the provenance of the table be provided, the Commission will investigate this matter further."
Mr Allister said he was shocked by the response and he has asked the Assembly Commission to explain how it had reached this conclusion. He said that the former Stormont Parliament bought the table in 1957 on the understanding that it was the table upon which the Act of Union had been signed.
"I have asked the Assembly Commission on what basis that they have changed their view that the Act of Union table is not an historic artefact," he added.