Tuesday, 16 June 1987
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. Nealon: asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the plans, if any, which are being made within his Department for an appropriate contribution to the Australian bicentennial year commemorations in 1988; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Lenihan): In May 1986 the Irish Australian Bicentennial Committee was established under the chairmanship of the then Minister for Foreign Affairs for the purpose of drawing up a programme of official projects to mark the bicentenary and to promote and co-ordinate national bicentenary activities generally. Since coming into office I have informed myself of the work of the committee and chaired a number of its meetings.
The committee is continuing to prepare several important projects for the bicentenary which will form the core of the Irish bicentennial programme. These include the microfilming of the large collection of documents in the State Paper Office relating to the transportation from Ireland of convict prisoners to Australia in the period 1788-1853, for presentation during the bicentenary to the Australian authorities. The committee is also preparing several exhibitions and presentations of wider artistic and cultural interest to take place in Australia next year. In addition to the projects which the committee itself is organising or coordinating I expect that there will be a wide range of other Irish activities and exchanges involving Australia during the bicentennial year especially in the sporting, educational and youth areas. The committee is examining ways in which the bicentenary can be marked by Irish people in Ireland as well as Australia and we hope that many Australians will find it possible to visit Ireland next year. I  should add that there is close co-operation between the bicentennial committee and its counterpart committee in Northern Ireland.
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