Guests from off-Island have spoken highly of their visit to the Isle of Man to attend the Tynwald Day ceremony.
The Rt Hon Mr Nigel Evans MP, Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, Mr Jarvis Matiya, Deputy Secretary General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, (CPA), Mr David Morris MP, vice-chairman of the All-Party Manx Group at Westminster, The Rt Hon Lord Stephens of Creevyloughgare, Justice of the Supreme Court and Colonel, The Rt Hon Bob Stewart DSO MP were among guests who attended the formal proceedings in the presence of HRH The Princess Royal on Tynwald Hill on Monday July 5 to mark the Island’s National Day.
The guests’ visit also provided an opportunity for The President of Tynwald, the Hon Steve Rodan OBE MLC, to host a tour of the Legislative Buildings on Sunday July 4.
Speaking on the eve of the Tynwald Day ceremony, Mr Matiya said: ‘The CPA places great value on its links with the Branches and I was delighted to be invited and learn more about the history of Tynwald. The Isle of Man plays a very active role in the CPA and it was interesting to discuss the challenges CPA Small Branches are facing, such as climate change and developing IT provision. The ambition of the CPA is to become recognised as the “go-to place” for all things parliamentary. It is the sharing of ideas and experience that is the cornerstone of the CPA and strengthens the organisation to the benefit of its members, all of whom have an equal voice.
Reflecting on the Tynwald Day ceremony Mr Matiya said: ‘My wife and I thoroughly and very much enjoyed the Tynwald Day ceremony. We learnt a lot about the culture and tradition of the Manx people. It was fascinating to see the rich Manx history celebrated in modern life by people of all walks of life coming together and united by values and principles of openness, democracy and good governance. It was striking to see the interaction and closeness between the legislature (and other branches of government) on one hand and the people, grounded in the fact that these institutions are accountable to the people. The presentation of petitions publicly was very symbolic in the commitment to an open and accountable governance. It was marvelous to watch.’
Colonel Stewart said: ‘I was thrilled to be invited. I found the people charming and the programme for our visit was well constructed. The tour hosted by Mr President was fascinating and I was also delighted to meet 99-year-old Army veteran James Fenton at the Tynwald Day garden party.’
Reflecting on his first visit to the Isle of Man he said: ‘Tynwald was seriously special and its sense of history was amazing. Westminster can learn a lot from Tynwald.’
For Lord Stephens it was also the first time he had attended Tynwald Day. He said: ‘We can all benefit from more contact between parliaments and it’s been interesting to learn about the Island’s legislative changes, also how the Island is far from “frozen in time” and is leading the way in some respects. The President of Tynwald gave an excellent tour and his outlining of the Island’s constitutional framework was of particular interest. I also noted the ease of public access to the Legislative Buildings.’
Describing his Tynwald Day experience Lord Stephens said: ‘Spontaneous applauses in the sunshine on a State occasion for the Chief Minister, the President of Tynwald and for Princess Anne, which was a display of esteem and affection as a fitting tribute to all of them. The ceremony reflecting a long history which was combined with pageantry, music, a guard of honour and the involvement of many different organisations. All underpinned by the religious service. Above all, a community day for all to enjoy with their family and friends. I will remember the occasion with gratitude on many levels.’
For Mr Morris, the Tynwald Day weekend marked his third visit to the Isle of Man, but the first time he had attended the formal proceedings. ‘Having had some health issues, the prospect of coming to the Island as a Tynwald Day guest was great encouragement to get well. I was hugely grateful and honoured to be invited, especially as being the MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale, I’m effectively the nearest Member of Parliament to the Isle of Man. The Island means a lot to me. I get great pleasure driving around the Island and my father used to visit twice a year. Each time I come here I learn something new. Its culture, personality, history and sense of community are what make the Island special. I believe the Isle of Man to be one the British Isles’ best kept secrets.’
Mr Evans said: ‘The Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, has fond memories of Tynwald and the Isle of Man, and was keen that I take this opportunity to witness Tynwald Day. Learning about the history of Tynwald, how 16-year-olds now have the right to vote and comparing and contrasting elements Westminster and House of Keys procedures was very interesting, as was the electronic voting system. It was a fascinating programme and brought home how much parliaments can learn from one another.
‘As for the Tynwald Day ceremony, I was absolutely thrilled to be there. To see how tradition is being maintained; the use of the English and the Manx language, the pageantry, the petition process and above all the friendliness of the people. Judging from the crowds, it’s clear that there’s tremendous community support for the Island’s National Day and its enduring importance. I felt very much that I was sharing in part of the Island’s past, present and future and, from a personal point of view, Tynwald Day provided me with the first opportunity since before the lockdowns to sing in a church,’
Mr Evans was supported by Mr Liam Laurence Smyth, Clerk of Legislation at the House of Commons. Mr Smyth said how pleased he was to have had the opportunity to return to the Isle of Man, which he had often visited as a child, and that the Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle had warmly commended the Tynwald Day proceedings.
The President of Tynwald, the Hon Steve Rodan OCE MLC said: ‘It was great that this year we were again able to welcome some distinguished visitors from across. We all know that Tynwald Day is the day the Isle of Man proclaims to the world that it is a self- governing nation, but it makes us especially proud when our guests see for themselves what is so special about the Isle of Man. It was a splendid National Day, a Royal Tynwald, and I am grateful to all who played their part and ensured such a memorable occasion.’