Wednesday, 6 June 2012
Dáil Éireann Debate
25. Deputy Derek Keating asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if, as part of the centenary celebrations to commemorate 1916, he will ensure that commemoration services and ceremonies will include the Four Courts, the Custom House and Kilmainham Gaol in view of the fact that these and others are centres of significance when remembering those who sought our independence in 1916; if he will outline any initial plans and his view of such planned ceremonies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21295/12]
456. Deputy Paschal Donohoe asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the steps being taken in preparations for the forthcoming centenary anniversary of the Easter Rising to allow for the involvement of relatives to those who took part in the Rising during the commemorative events; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26402/12]
484. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he or his officials have attended meetings recently to discuss the commemoration of 1916; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24825/12]
As Deputies will be aware, we are already arrived on the Centenary anniversary of the tumultuous decade that saw the transition from the campaign for Home Rule to the establishment of an autonomous Irish State. It was a period when the parliamentary process was overtaken by the resort to arms in Ireland and the descent of Europe into war. It was also a period of transformation and cultural renewal in Irish society, following on electoral reform, land reform, education reform and migration. The demand for constitutional change was in parallel with the assertion of workers’ rights and women’s rights. The decade from 1912 to 1922 is the most momentous of modern Irish history and requires a comprehensive commemorative programme that will acknowledge the achievements of the revolutionary generation and enhance the understanding today of the events that shaped our society.
While it is intended that the official commemorative programme will continue through the entire Decade of Centenaries until 2022, consideration is currently being focused on an initial programme to 2016.
With a strong commitment to the development of a comprehensive and balanced programme of commemorations, I very much appreciate the support of the Oireachtas All-Party Consultation Group. The meetings of this Group, of which I am Chairman, not only provide opportunities for suggestions and advice from members in relation to the programme, but also allow interested institutions and groups to make presentations in relation to their expectations in the coming years. At the most recent meeting on 22 May, the Group discussed commemorative planning with a cross-community group from Belfast and met with members and officials from Dublin City Council in relation to future co-operation.
In order to ensure a coherent presentation of the history of the period, the commemorative arrangements will be aligned, as far as possible, with the historic timeline of the Centenary anniversaries. I very much appreciate that the commemorative programme will have the support of a panel of distinguished historians, chaired by Dr Maurice Manning, providing advice for the Government and the All-Party Oireachtas Committee on both the overall commemorative programme and on any specific issues which may arise. I very much hope that the commemorative programme will strengthen the public interest in our national history and encourage original research at local and national level. I understand that the expert group will be consulting widely — with universities, educational and cultural bodies, local historical associations and committees, and individuals — on the advancement of historical study.
To date in 2012, there have been a number of significant centenary commemoration events. In late March, the Northern Ireland First Minister, Mr. Peter Robinson, MLA, visited Iveagh House in Dublin, at the invitation of the Tánaiste, to offer his reflections on Carson’s influence and on Irish Unionism. The centenary of the introduction of the Third Home Rule Bill in the Westminster Parliament on 11 April was marked by memorial lectures on the work of John Redmond and the Irish Parliamentary Party, hosted by Waterford City Council. In mid-April, I addressed a conference in Belfast about the Ulster Covenant, organised by the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.
With support from my Department, Dublin City Gallery — The Hugh Lane is currently hosting a major exhibition —Home Rule and Modern Ireland. The centenary of the signing of the Ulster Covenant will be marked on 28 September of this year, although the details of any event have not yet been confirmed. The county libraries of Donegal, Monaghan and Cavan will host exhibitions on the Covenant this year, with support from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Other events planned this year include the completion of the restoration of Erskine Childers’ yacht, Asgard, and the continuation of the National Library of Ireland’s Europeana World War I collection roadshows.
The developing programme of special Centenary commemorations will complement the established arrangements for annual commemorations, which includes the National Day of Commemoration and the commemorations at the GPO and Arbour Hill. The annual commemoration of the Great Famine and other events outside the Centenary framework will also continue. In this regard, consideration is being given to special commemorative arrangements for events such as the millennial anniversary of the Battle of Clontarf in 2014.
With our priority attention to the immediate future, the arrangements for commemoration in 2016 are still at an early stage of consideration. The significance of particular buildings and sites in relation to the Rising will be borne in mind in developing the commemorative programme. Similarly, the special arrangements for military ceremonies or parades on the Centenary of the Rising in 2016 have yet to be addressed. I would renew my invitation to Deputies and all interested persons to send me any contributions or suggestions they would offer towards the developing programme. If Deputies have any particular interests or concerns in this regard, I would be grateful to hear from them.
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