How depressing that, of all the things which might cause contention in plans to commemorate Northern Ireland's centenary, it's an image of Nobel Prize-winning poet, Bellaghy man Seamus Heaney.
While Queen's University confirmed it granted permission for reproduction of the portrait in glossy brochures, it's not clear if the NIO sought the approval of the family before associating him with the branding.
That would be a no-brainer, so if the NIO hasn't had the courtesy to talk to the Heaney family, then that's lamentable. If anyone "owns" Seamus Heaney, it is his wife and children.
But it is certainly not the politicians who have attempted to lay claim to him by indulging in vulgar point-scoring.
Step forward SDLP leader Colum Eastwood who described the "cynical attempt to co-opt Seamus Heaney's image and reduce his work to a branding tool to promote that narrative about partition, which he did not subscribe to" as "deeply offensive" and said that "it should be called out". He tweeted Heaney's lines: 'Be advised my passport's green/No glass of ours was ever raised to toast the Queen'.
Of course, this will all come as a source of astonishment to many and bafflement to most. Even in Ireland, poetry doesn't really make headlines.
What could any unionist person take from Eastwood's remarks other than "Hands off Heaney, he's ours"?
In terms of a shared future, the crabbed possessiveness of his words can only have a chilling effect on his Protestant neighbours.
Nobody is disputing the poet's nationalist background, but his life and work belie simplistic labelling. In an age of fanatics, his poetry and public utterances were measured, reflective, about imaginative flexibility and goodwill.
Indeed that's what earned him the contempt of many republicans who regarded him as little more than a sell-out, not doing his bit for "the cause".
It is even a disgrace to have to mount a defence of Heaney's civic and artistic values. But here goes, because his work means very much to very many people of every hue and shade, and this pilfering of that generous legacy cannot be allowed to stand.
Heaney was acutely aware of and sensitive to those he shared this island with. You only have to read a poem like The Other Side, in which he describes a Protestant neighbour waiting outside a home until the Rosary has been said, to understand his keen sense of difference and how it could be transcended by everyday civility.
He was renowned himself for his colossal magnanimity and big-heartedness. In so many ways, he made himself an archetypal image of an 'Ulsterman', replacing those other ghastly images we had come to live with, concealed under balaclavas and helmets. The subtleties and exchanges in his work are multiple, clever, warm and inviting - with absolutely no chill factor.
So how can a leader of the SDLP introduce such ice into public discussion? Is that the role of the SDLP now? Is that what 'middle of the road' nationalism has become?
Imagine thinking Seamus Heaney could have no relevance to 'Northern Ireland' or 'the North' or indeed to Protestants, when he chose in his Nobel acceptance speech to tell the world about the Kingsmill massacre and the power and beauty of a human act, when the hand of a Protestant reached for that of his Catholic fellow workman thinking only about saving his life.
This is one of Heaney's several greatnesses - he confronted himself with his own attitudes and assumptions and helped many of us, from all sides, to face up to our own.
The problem with Eastwood plucking a quote from 1983 in isolation isn't only that it's unrepresentative of Heaney's work. The two lines are from a complicated poem penned in response to being included in Penguin's Book of Contemporary British Poetry.
The problem is that Eastwood diminishes, reduces and demeans the poet, turning his work into something like the CDs turned up at full volume on the football coaches or the rowdy songs belted out after midnight in shebeens.
It's a travesty. This is the poet who went on to dine with the Queen in Dublin Castle, as an equal individual of immense status and whose presence there placed this corner of Ireland at the centre of world attention for all the best reasons. There was nothing creepy, chilling or surly about that.
That's not to say Heaney became less nationalist between the prawn cocktail and the Black Forest Gateau, but it illustrates how he was capable of an overview of history and wanted to help build a society that didn't entail ordinary people of all sides getting shot on the roadside.
The fact is Heaney's image and reality is everywhere in our culture. The promotions of TourismNI, Bord Failte and the common brand agency Tourism Ireland is replete with Heaney's words and image.
Look at the Seamus Heaney Centre at QUB. The Seamus Heaney HomePlace in Bellaghy, rightly visited by Prince Charles and Camilla, as well as President Higgins, shaping up to be the global visitor attraction it promised when built only a few years ago.
Look at the central role Heaney has had in our education system for more than 50 years now, his engagement with the late Duchess of Abercorn's Pushkin Trust - another association republicans weren't comfortable with.
Is none of this for Protestants, then? Or only as strangers in the house who can't be trusted with the shiny cutlery?
Heaney replaced Not an Inch, Ourselves Alone, Up the Rebels and To Hell with the Pope with other, better, phrasings, uniquely speaking of Northern Ireland, the place where we too will have lived.
It's this Heaney the last hundred years evoke; this one President-elect Biden reaches for to conjure up a better day; the better day that for centuries we've been hoping for in this bitter little place. We should all be allowed to share in that magic.
"So long for air to brighten, Time to be dazzled and the heart to lighten."