One of the main items associated with the Opening of the new Northern Ireland Parliament in May 1921 is the official programme.


The first sitting of the new parliament of Northern Ireland was held in early 1921 at Belfast City Hall, with King George V officially opening proceedings on 22 June 1921.

The ceremony took place against a background of continuing Republican violence in Northern Ireland, and there was a heavy security presence as the sovereign steamed into Belfast Lough and made his way by carriage to City Hall.

Here, King George delivered a speech calling for:

“all Irishmen to pause, to stretch out the hand of forbearance and conciliation, to forgive and forget, and join in making for the land they love a new era of peace, contentment and goodwill.”

But the north was deeply divided. For Unionists, this was a day of celebration – Northern Ireland was secure within the empire. Yet, nationalist MPs refused to attend the opening, and the Catholic minority largely ignored the proceedings.

The Official programme was given to the MPs and other invited guests who attended the proceedings in Belfast City Hall. Today copies have been preserved in a number of local museums and private collections.

It was designed by Major Sir Neville R. Wilkinson, Kt., CVO the Ulster King-of-Arms who choreographed the entire event. His role was key to the events and ensured that it had the pomp and ceremony befitting to a State Opening of Parliament.

A particularly fine copy is held by Lisburn Museum, which have showcased it as part of their Centenary events.

Provenance: Lisburn Museum


Accession Number



Lisburn Museum



Digital Copy of the Programme