21 January 2006

Belfast City Hall may see tribute in stained glass to James Connolly

Daily Ireland

By Ciarán Barnes


A stained-glass window commemorating the life of Easter Rising leader James Connolly could be erected in Belfast’s City Hall.
The city council’s policy and resources committee is preparing a report on the proposal and a series of others to commemorate the 1916 Rising, all made by Sinn Féin.
The party has agreed to back plans by unionists to stage a series of events to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, in which thousands of Belfast men lost their lives. In return, Sinn Féin councillors have asked unionists not to oppose the Easter Rising commemoration plans.
Before moving to Dublin, James Connolly played a key role in the formation of trade unions in Belfast and the development of workers’ rights. Sinn Féin councillor Fra McCann said that, for this alone, he should be honoured in City Hall.
“James Connolly was a champion of the rights of all workers in Belfast,” said Mr McCann.
“He worked for people across the religious and class divide, and he firmly believed too that the way to improve the rights of workers was through British disengagement and the unification of Ireland. As a man who made a great contribution to Belfast, he deserves be honoured in the City Hall.”
A plaque marking Connolly’s stay in the city is mounted at the front of his old home on the Falls Road in west Belfast.
If a stained-glass window commemorating his achievements is fitted in City Hall, this would be the first monument to a republican to go up in the famous building, which celebrates its centenary this year.
Last April, an image of Theobald Wolfe Tone, one of the leaders of the United Irish rebellion of 1898, was included in a portrait of former SDLP mayor Martin Morgan. The inclusion of the Protestant republican leader angered hardline unionists, who called for the painting to be removed.

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