Tuesday, 6 March 2012
Dáil Éireann Debate
93. Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of times that the Oireachtas consultation group on commemorative matters has met in the past 12 months; when it is due to meet next; the progress it has made, in conjunction with other relevant parties, preparing for upcoming commemorative events; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12487/12]
Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): The Deputy will be aware that the All-Party Oireachtas Consultation Group on Commemorations, which I chair, was recently strengthened by expanding its membership. Since then, the Group has met on two occasions, the most recent meeting being on 21st February. It will meet again on this afternoon.
The Group now includes the Minister of State at my Department, Mr Dinny McGinley, T.D., Ms Heather Humphries, TD, Mr Michael Conaghan, TD, Ms Anne Ferris, TD, Senator Mary White, Senator Mark Daly, Mr Aengus Ó Snodaigh, TD, Senator Kathryn Reilly, Ms Mary O’Sullivan TD, Ms Catherine Murphy TD and Senator Dr Martin McAleese. While it is envisaged that the framework for commemorations of the decade of centenaries relating to the period 2012-2022 will be developed by officials and approved by Government, it is intended that particular commemorative initiatives and the arrangements for them will be brought to the attention of the All-Party Group.
I would also report the establishment of an Expert Advisory Group of eminent historians, chaired by Dr Maurice Manning, supported by Dr Martin Mansergh. This Group will advise Government and the All-Party Oireachtas Committee on both the overall commemorative programme and on any specific issues which may arise. In particular, it will seek to set a tone that is inclusive and non-triumphalist, ensuring authenticity, proportionality and openness. It hopes to consult widely with scholars, with universities, with educational and cultural bodies, with local historical associations and committees, and with individuals, where appropriate. It will seek to encourage original research at local and national level, at all times acknowledging the identities and traditions which are part of the historic story of the island of Ireland and Irish people worldwide.
I can confirm to the Deputy that there has been a significant level of engagement with various interested parties in regard to the commemorations programme, including on both a North/South and an East/West basis. I hope to attend commemoration events in Belfast and London later this month, with further events planned in succeeding months for Dublin, Belfast and Waterford. From an overall perspective, the Government’s approach to these commemorations will seek to respect historical accuracy, promote tolerance, respect and inclusiveness, and recognise the All-Island and East/West shared past nature of the decade.
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