Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Questions (82)

Niamh Smyth


82. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the actions which will be taken to ensure that commemorations in 2019 will be inclusive, sensitive and respectful commemorative events and activities for all communities. [1711/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

As the Minister with responsibility for leading the Decade of Centenaries commemorative programme, my priority is to ensure that the Government's approach to the remembrance of the significant historical events and related themes of the period from 1919 to 1923 is appropriate, measured, respectful, inclusive and sensitive to the different perspectives that persist on the events of this period.

At the Government's first cabinet meeting this year, I outlined my proposed overall approach to commemorations in 2019 and over the remainder of the Decade. This approach will continue to be informed by the guidance of the Expert Advisory Group on Centenary Commemorations - specifically, the principles laid down in the Advisory Group's Second Statement, which was published in October 2017, and also the most recent specific guidance from this Group, which I published on 8th January. This guidance is available on my Department's website ( ). The advice will inform the Government's approach to the remembrance of specific historical events over the coming years, including the Struggle for Independence, the Civil War, the Foundation of the State and Partition. This latest guidance follows from last year's publication of the Group's Second Statement of Principles. These guiding principles have been widely commended for providing clarity and a broad template to support all involved in delivering authentic, citizen-focused and meaningful commemorations at national and local level over the remainder of the Decade.

The All-Party Consultation Group on Commemorations also has a significant contribution to make and will be instrumental in promoting an authentic, consensus-based and inclusive approach. I look forward to continued positive engagement and consultation with both groups over the coming period.

My objective in developing the State Commemorative Programme for the years from 2019 – 2023 is to ensure that, in remembering this complex period in our history, we promote a deeper understanding of the significance of these events, which accepts that the shared historical experience of those years gave rise to very different narratives and memories. It will also take account of sensitivities across communities in Northern Ireland and continue to recognise that very different perspectives persist on many of these events.

This Programme will be based on a four strand approach comprising:

- A State Ceremonial Strand which will comprise a limited number of symbolic acts of national commemoration focusing on themes of remembrance and reconciliation and on the commemoration of all of those who lost their lives during this period.

- An Historical Strand which will comprise a diverse range of activities designed to encourage authentic historical enquiry about this period and promote the use of primary archival sources. Initiatives will be developed in collaboration with State partners, National Cultural Institutions, institutions of learning and other stakeholders.

- A Community Strand, which will involve a collaborative approach – similar to that adopted for the 1916 centenary commemorations – between the State, local authority network and community organisations, including in Northern Ireland where appropriate.

- The Creative Imagination Strand, which will continue to encourage artistic and creative expression in remembrance of the significant historical events of the period from 1919 to 1923 and all of those who lost their lives.