Parliament Building of Belfast

Belfast, United Kingdom

Parliament Buildings, often referred to as Stormont because of its location in the Stormont Estate area of Belfast, is the seat of the Northern Ireland Assembly, the devolved legislature for the region.

The need for a separate parliament building for Northern Ireland emerged with the creation of the Northern Ireland Home Rule region within Ulster in the Government of Ireland Act 1920. In 1922, a design by Sir Arnold Thornely of Liverpool was chosen and preparatory work on the chosen site, east of Belfast, began. These plans were for a large domed building with two subsidiary side buildings, housing all three branches of government: legislative, executive and judicial, giving rise to the plural in the official title still used today.

These plans were found to be too costly, and it was decided to build only the Parliament Building, without the dome, in a Greek classical style and the foundation stone was laid on 19 May 1928.

The building itself changed little over the years, even as the parliaments meeting inside it did. To camouflage it during World War II, the building's Portland stone was painted with supposedly removable 'paint' made of bitumen and cow manure. However, after the war, removing the paint proved an enormous difficulty, with the paint having scarred the stonework. It took seven years to remove the 'paint', and the exterior façade has never regained its original white colour. While most traces of it were removed from the façades (though having done damage that can be seen up close), some of the remains of the paint survive in the inner courtyards and unseen parts of the place.

 

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