Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Questions (415)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

415. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht his Department’s plans for the commemoration of the outbreak of the First World War; if his Department is liaising with any historical or commemorative societies in arranging these events; and if the relatives of veterans of the First World War will be invited to participate in the commemorations. [21099/14]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

The outbreak and escalation of World War I will be remembered with activities envisaged nationally and in Great Britain and further afield. In recent years, the Government has been represented at war memorial ceremonies in Dublin, Belfast and other centres marking the Battle of the Somme in July and the Armistice in November.The government has also been represented at the annual commemorations taking place on the Somme – participating at the international commemoration at Thiepval and the special commemorations of the 16th (Ulster) Division at the Ulster Tower and the 10th (Irish) Division at Guillemont. As the Deputy will be aware, annual commemorations of national losses in the World War are organised by embassies and communities in Ireland, notably Australia, New Zealand and Germany. I believe that special arrangements for official representation at such events would be appropriate in the centenary years of the World War and I attended at the ANZAC commemoration on 25 April.

Arrangements are being made to mark the anniversary of the start of the war in early August with a special service of prayer. A memorial "Cross of Sacrifice" at Glasnevin cemetery will be dedicated to the memory of all Irish soldiers lost in the war and particularly those laid to rest there. This cross is a welcome addition to the comprehensive and inclusive representation of Irish history on the site and is brought forward in partnership between Glasnevin Trust and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

The National Museum of Ireland hosted a conference at Collins Barracks on 1 February on ‘Remembering World War One in Europe, 1914-2014’ and the National Gallery of Ireland arranged an extensive programme of events commencing on 1 March with a Study Day on War Artists, followed on 2 March by a consideration of War Poetry and Images of the First World War . In addition, the Hugh Lane Gallery is planning an exhibition for later this year.

I welcome also the contributions to the commemorative programme from colleges where conferences are being organised to present research and stimulate consideration of the centenary of the war. One example, the programme prepared by the School of History at University College Cork earlier this year addressed themes such as media, culture, religion, conscription, politics, society and legacy. As Minister, I participated at the conference and was delighted that the programme included a keynote address from the British Minister, Dr Andrew Murrison MP, who addressed important issues of purpose, direction and tone in official commemoration of the war.