30/09/2002

Ulster Covenant could boost tourism says Minister

Culture Minister, Michael McGimpsey, today said that making the details contained in the Ulster Covenant more accessible would give a huge boost to both cultural tourism and genealogical research.

The Minister was speaking at a preview of the Ulster Covenant Digitisation Project, currently underway at Northern Ireland’s Public Record Office, where the original signatures are held.

Mr McGimpsey said that the signing of the Covenant on Ulster Day, September 28, 1912, was a defining moment in Northern Ireland’s history. He added: “Whatever one’s outlook on our last ninety years, there can be no denying that this document captured a momentous period in our history. On that day, nearly half a million citizens seized the moment to bear witness to a crucial turning point in the annals of these islands.

“It was, and remains, an inspiring example of the people expressing their will and shaping their own destiny. As a piece of historical evidence, the Covenant must be made widely and easily available to anyone, anywhere, who wants to study it.”

The Minister pointed out that as well as signatures, the Covenant also contained the addresses of those who signed. He said: “This, along with the fact that women also signed a parallel Declaration, makes the Covenant a rich source of material to anyone interested in genealogical or sociological research.

“Together, these details form a deep well of historical information which any of us should be able to dip into."

Mr McGimpsey added that he was confident that by early 2003, when the information will be made available in the form of an electronic database, this objective would be much closer to fruition.

(MB)

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