Northern Ireland

Nelson McCausland asked about creation in museums call

Nelson McCausland
Image caption The culture minister is a long-time supporter of Ulster-Scots culture

Culture Minister Nelson McCausland has been asked in the Assembly about his views on creationism displays in the Ulster Museum.

He wrote to the trustees of National Museums Northern Ireland, asking them to give more prominence to Ulster-Scots, the Orange Order and alternative views on the origin of the universe.

The SDLP's Tommy Gallagher challenged the minister about his letter.

Mr McCausland said it had been leaked to the media by a "malign" individual.

He said a transcript of a meeting was also leaked before the minutes of the discussions had been verified.

He said this individual had "showed a lack of respect" for the trustees of the museum and the institution itself.

The minister said an investigation had begun, and he urged Mr Gallagher to join with him in condemning the leak.

Different theories

In the letter, Mr McCausland said he believes his department and the trustees "share a common desire to ensure that museums are reflective of the views, beliefs and cultural traditions that make up society in Northern Ireland."

He says National Museums' contribution to the shared future agenda can best be achieved by "practical measures".

Among these measures are consideration of how best to recognise the role of the Grand Lodge of Ireland and other fraternal organisations.

He specifically mentions the "Plantation to Power Sharing" exhibition which is currently on at the Ulster Museum and suggests that the trustees should consider changes to the exhibition before the summer months.

In terms of Ulster-Scots, Mr McCausland wrote that the local history exhibition should recognise the contribution of the Hamilton Montgomery Settlement, considered to be the most important event in Ulster-Scots history.

The issue of the origin of the universe and the different theories explaining it was previously raised by Mr McCausland's DUP assembly colleague Mervyn Storey.

He said that he wanted the views of creationists - the concept of God creating the universe in contrast to the scientific theory of evolution - to be represented in the exhibitions.

Without specifically mentioning creationism, Mr McCausland's letter includes a request for the trustees to consider how alternative views of the origin of the universe can be recognised and accomodated.

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