I propose to take Questions Nos. 18 and 33 together.
At the outset, I would like to acknowledge the commitment and interest of the many bodies and individuals that have brought forward the diverse initiatives that comprise a great part of the Centenary commemorative programme. I place great importance on public engagement and participation at community level. There is a strengthening interest in this important period of our history which I believe will continue to grow in the coming years. I have made a priority commitment to facilitating exploration and discussion of the revolutionary period through the preparation of archives for public release and the production of a new online newspaper of contemporary reporting - Century Ireland – to build affinity with the issues and people of a hundred years ago.
The costs arising from official elements of the commemoration programme are largely being met from the existing resources allocated to the national cultural institutions and other bodies, complemented by the work of other Departments. Commemorative arrangements are also being developed through co-operation between the National Cultural Institutions, the Trade Unions, academic bodies, community and voluntary partners, most especially this year in relation to the 1913 Lockout.
The comprehensive programme for the Lockout has been primarily brought forward by a 1913 Commemoration Committee under the auspices of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. It includes a collaborative commemorative tapestry project, an oral history project, exhibitions, conferences, seminars, memorial church services, re-enactments and a schools programme developed in association with the National Cultural Institutions, academic bodies, community and voluntary partners. Recognising the centenary of the Lockout, the ‘One City, One Book’ programme of Dublin City Council has selected ‘Strumpet City ’ for 1913. Special commemorative stamps will be issued by An Post this year for The Lockout.
Without a substantial and dedicated fund to support commemorations, my Department seeks to provide assistance through accommodation, use of services and other supports. The National Museum will soon host an exhibition of the banners of the labour movement. The National Library will host a major exhibition in August entitled “Lockout!”, which will provide access to historical documents of the time. My Department has provided support for the 1913 tapestry project, which is being developed by a large group of volunteers under the supervision of the National College of Art and Design and artists Robert Ballagh and Cathy Henderson.
Special arrangements are also being made this year for the Centenary of the Irish Volunteers. Plans for events to take place in November are being prepared in partnership with the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces and will be announced shortly.
Insofar as funding can be provided this year by the Government to support commemorations, I believe priority should attach to a small number of capital projects that are under consideration in order that they might be completed in advance of the centenary of the Easter Rising. Project approval and the allocation of funding for these projects will be announced on an individual basis. I have approved financial support of approximately €150,00 Centenary commemorative projects in 2013. These allocations relate in the main to the recently launched Century Ireland and the 1916 Oral History projects. Subject to availability of resources within the approved Estimate for my Department, I hope to make some further allocations later this year.
Although the commemorative programme embraces the totality of our history in the years from the 3rd Home Rule Bill to the emergence of the Irish State, I am conscious of the particular interest in the Easter Rising and the Proclamation of the Republic and how these events might be commemorated. I had a welcome opportunity to discuss these issues with Senators last week. I indicated that I was interested to look beyond the ceremonial arrangements that will mark the anniversaries and that we should direct attention now towards initiatives that would enhance our understanding of the background, the principles and the vision of the revolutionary movement. In particular, I invited Senators to consider how we might explore the revolutionary age through its artistic legacy and how the arts might today give expression to our perspective on the Rising after the passing of a hundred years.
The Advisory Group on Commemorations has recently commenced a national consultation process with regard to expectations and arrangements. Following an initial meeting in Carlow, meetings are now being arranged to take place in Cork and Kerry. These meetings are arranged in partnership with the local authority and promoted through local media and the network of local history societies.
I am aware of the limited time remaining to 2016 and the desirability that all arrangements would soon be in place for the special initiatives relating to the Centenary of the Rising. The commemorative framework will be underpinned by official ceremonies and the continuing and special exhibitions by the national cultural institutions – particularly the digitisation and release of archival material, most especially the records of the Military Service Pensions Archive. With the official contribution substantially defined, I am keen next to engage with local authorities, universities and community groups in Ireland and abroad on their contributions and participation.