NEWS FROM THE CELTIC LEAGUE
“new arrangements will turn the National Day over to commercial enterprises that provide bouncy castles, candy floss, junk food, and cheap goods.”
The Manx Nationalist Party (Mec Vannin) has sent a strongly worded letter to both the Tynwald Ceremony Arrangements Committee (TCAC) and the Department of Infrastructure (DOI) voicing concerns at organisational changes planned for this years ceremony at the Tynwald Hill site at St Johns.
The gist of Mec Vannin’s objections can be found in a press release on the Party’s Facebook pages (link):
The concerns emanate from new plans to prioritise the allocation of places to organisations for stands (or stalls) on the memorial field on the North side of the Hill to which ‘the fair’ was effectively ‘shunted’ in 1979.
Mec Vannin (MV) were given an assurance in 1979 that a stand would be available however it seems now that the TAC wish to commercialise the event and effectively exclude not for profit organisations simply distributing information.
Mec Vannin say in their letter (with some justification):
“The Isle of Man considers itself to be the grandmother of parliaments, but these new arrangements will turn the National Day over to commercial enterprises that provide bouncy castles, candy floss, junk food, and cheap goods.”
Up until 1979 the ‘Fair’ element of the Tynwald Day was a fairly low key event the main preoccupation of those visiting St John’s on what was very much a ‘Manx’ day was to meet old friends, socialise, watch and listen to the events unfolding on the Hill (as laws were promulgated and the ceremonial unfolded) and generally laze (hopefully) in the sun.
In 1979 Tynwald decided that it would celebrate its 1000 years of existence and declared a Millennium Year.
A great array of dignitaries from the UK, Commonwealth and Foreign countries were invited and a decision was made to move the ‘Fair’ from the South side of the Hill (immediately opposite the present Bunscoill) to the North (the memorial field). The fact that this was a site dedicated to the fallen of two World Wars was conveniently forgotten.
On the eve of Tynwald Day 1979 Mec Vannin set out as usual to erect its stand on the main area on the Southern field. Police intervened to stop them and a ‘stand-off’ ensued with Mec Vannin members standing on the un-erected sections of their stand and refusing to move.
The situation became increasingly ugly with threats being made against the Mec Vannin members and even physical attempts to remove them which were resisted non-violently.
Eventually the (then) Clerk of Tynwald (Robert Quayle) who had been attending a dinner for visiting political guests at a restaurant in the South of the Island was summoned during the late evening and negotiated a compromise with Mec Vannin officials.
For that year MV was allowed to erect the Stand on a triangular section of land (still on the South side of the Hill) opposite the Tynwald Inn. Thereafter the Mec Vannin stand moved to the memorial field. Despite some opposition from within the MV members present the compromise was agreed.
Steadily in succeeding years the area in the memorial field has become more congested as commercial organisations selling all sorts of fast food and tacky merchandise vie with each other to gain the available places.
The TAC and DOI want to maximise their return on the day to try and offset organisational costs. Hence the commercialisation this year and the introduction of site fees, indeed the concept of the TCAC effectively selling of bits of the Tynwald Day makes them akin to ‘the money-lenders in the temple’.
The whole event has become increasingly more shoddy and played out as it is on an area set aside for remembrance makes it all the more disreputable.
In 1979 the fallen of the Great War could be conveniently sidelined ironic that this year having seen a focus on their sacrifice their memorial field has been turned into a ‘fun fair’!
Heavy list of guests at the Tynwald 1979 (includes the English ‘Queen’ – described as such in Hansard but her title is actually ‘Lord of Man’).There’s also a number of prominent figures from Norway, Sweden and Iceland as the Manx government of the day had something of a ‘Viking fetish’ in relation to Manx history.
In a twist of irony Hansard also records that ‘Her Majesty inspected the Guard of Honour of the 1st battalion Scots Guards drawn up on the fairground” although that year ‘the fairground’ had been bundled to the memorial field north of the Hill:
The aerial view below (let it load) shows the original ‘fair field’ on right adjacent to the main road, the new site in the memorial field is on the right with the National war memorial surrounded (on its North and West side) by bric-a-brac stalls and hot dog stands. The area Mec Vannin moved to in 1979, by agreement, is the grass area just seen in the very bottom right of the picture:
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
(Please note that replies to correspondence received by the League and posted on CL News are usually scanned hard copies. Obviously every effort is made to ensure the scanning process is accurate but sometimes errors do occur)
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