This photo shows the statue of Edward Carson, a leader and hero of Unionism. Although Carson was from Dublin and of Scottish stock, he was the first signatory of the ‘Ulster Covenant’ on Sunday 28th September, 1912, which pledged to resist Home Rule by ‘all means necessary’. Carson also created the Ulster Volunteers who are regarded by many as the first Unionist paramilitary group. From this ill-set group emerged the Ulster Volunteer Force, formed in 1913, and it’s no secret the sort of organisation they became. Carson was also a member of the Orange Order.
Carson’s statue was erected during his lifetime in what must surely have been an extravagance at the time. We can only imagine the arrogance of Carson in turning up to witness the unveiling of a monument to himself. The sculptor may have gotten the dimensions of his head entirely wrong.
The inscription on this statue of injustice reads, “By the loyalists of Ulster as an expression of their love and admiration for its subject”. The unveiling ceremony was the final time that Carson visited Belfast. He died in England, no doubt more at home there than he ever was in Ireland.
When constitutional Nationalists have attended Stormont, be it 80 years ago or 2, they must pass by Carson’s statue, and see it from the building. It dominates the grounds as Carson’s Unionists dominated the beleaguered Nationalists and Republicans of the Occupied Six Counties for far too long.
When politicians of today speak of ‘parity of esteem’, they are referring to equality and respect for other communities. The question must therefore be posed, can there ever be parity of esteem when a statue, that commemorates such a (literally) divisive figure as Edward Carson, remains where Nationalism is asked to venture?