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Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 5 Jul 2017

Vol. 252 No. 12

Declaration of Independence Day Bill 2017: Second Stage (Resumed)

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

As we continue to celebrate and commemorate key moments on our journey to becoming a sovereign nation, we have also learned the importance of looking to and learning from our past while striving to create a better future for Ireland. We have reflected on our journey over the past 100 years and imagined our legacy for future generations.

A commemorative initiative to mark the convening of the First Dáil and the Declaration of Independence could be a significant step in connecting younger generations with that legacy.

I am overwhelmed and humbled by the support across the House today. Our political forefathers who sat in that First Dáil-----

-----and mothers - on 21 January 1919 would be very proud of the contributions from the Senators on all sides of the House today. We need to keep reminding ourselves that we are the successors to that first election on 14 December 1918. I thank Senator Wilson for co-sponsoring this Bill and for his kind comments. I thank Senator Hopkins for supporting the Bill. As she said, Roscommon was well represented at the time. Senator Boyhan made some very pertinent remarks when he said that in accepting this Bill, we are showing political maturity. That is why in my speech the narrative was deliberately non-confrontational.

This declaration of independence does not belong to any one party. It belongs to us all. We need to respect the diversity of the people of Ireland, North and South. It is an excellent idea that this is recognised in communities, schools and among the diaspora who are particularly close to my heart because one of my sisters lives in New Zealand and another in America. It would be an important day to include all our family members who were forced to emigrate years ago.

It is important that this Bill be recognised in the Houses of the Oireachtas. It was an excellent idea of Senator Ó Donnghaile's to display a copy of the declaration in the Houses. I thank him and Sinn Féin for their support. He quoted the phrase from the declaration, "equal right and equal opportunity for every citizen". That is what it is all about. Those words are as relevant today, almost 100 years on, as they were in 1919. That is why we enter public life and are elected, to improve the lives of those people in our communities who are less fortunate than us. That is the essence of the Bill. I am happy it received widespread support. I also thank Senators Davitt and Horkan for their kind comments. I hope this Bill will pass quickly through the House.

I welcome the Minister and thank her for her kind sentiments. I am delighted the Government is accepting and supporting this Bill. I am delighted the expert advisory group is getting involved in this. Senators would welcome feedback from the advisory group as the discussion progresses to the different Stages.

I also acknowledge the hard work of Dr. Maurice Manning and his sentiments. I thank Senators for their support.

Question put and agreed to.

When is it proposed to take Committee Stage?

Committee Stage ordered for Tuesday, 11 July 2017.

When is it proposed to sit again?

Next Tuesday at 2.30 p.m.

The Seanad adjourned at 5.20 p.m. until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 11 July 2017.