The Northern Ireland Office is working collaboratively with partners on a range of proposals to celebrate Her Majesty’s platinum jubilee. I am pleased to tell the House that next week we will unveil a jubilee hamper, bringing together the very best of Northern Ireland’s food and drink produce, which we will be presenting to Windsor Castle, Clarence House and Kensington Palace. We want the jubilee in Northern Ireland to bring communities together and celebrate the amazing personal achievement of Her Majesty the Queen.
My right hon. Friend has touched on the deep respect and admiration that everyone across the United Kingdom has for Her Majesty the Queen—something that we see in Northern Ireland and that I see in Wales, particularly in my constituency of Clwyd South. Does he agree that that is amply demonstrated not only by the plans that he will outline but by the many street parties and local events being planned by communities large and small across the UK?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right: this will be an event and a weekend that brings all citizens of our United Kingdom together in celebration as we collectively salute the service of Her Majesty the Queen.
We should never forget, of course, that Her Majesty the Queen was among thousands who lost close family members during the troubles and that, by her actions, she has supported the efforts towards peace and reconciliation. Does my right hon. Friend agree that Her Majesty’s platinum jubilee is a fantastic opportunity for communities across Northern Ireland to come together not only to mark this important milestone but to recognise how much progress has been made towards peace and prosperity during her reign?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. In Northern Ireland we are determined that the celebration of this historic event will bring communities together. I have acknowledged previously in this House the words of the leader of Sinn Féin, who extended her congratulations to Her Majesty, saying that
“70 years is quite some achievement.”
This jubilee can be celebrated across communities and in every part of our United Kingdom, and we are determined that it will be.
The Minister will recall that at Northern Ireland questions six weeks ago, he said that
“we will be marking this jubilee with full throttle, joy and celebration,” and that he and the Secretary of State would be
“coming forward with some very innovative ideas”.—[Official Report,
So far we have a hamper and the potential for an annual garden party. I do not want our celebrations to be lacklustre; I want the NIO to bring a level of sparkle and joy to the platinum jubilee celebrations. Is there more to the plans the Minister will unveil next week?
I can assure the hon. Gentleman that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I, and the whole of the Northern Ireland Office, will be sparkling throughout the jubilee celebrations. We will be unveiling very shortly another very exciting proposal—a competition in Northern Ireland’s schools for something to be presented to Her Majesty on behalf of the young people of Northern Ireland. I assure the hon. Gentleman that he will not be disappointed, and I say that knowing that that is a very high bar to cross with the Democratic Unionist party.