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 exist on the events of this period.
The commemorative centenaries programme for 2019 and the years out to 2023 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.
The State commemoration programme for 2019 commenced with engagement by my Department on the marking of the centenary of the Soloheadbeg Ambush of 21 January 1919. Tipperary County Council supported a community-led commemoration on Sunday, 20th January, as part of a broader commemorative programme across the county to mark the centenary of the Independence Struggle. My Department collaborated with the local authority to support these plans, in accordance with the most recent guidance of the Expert Advisory Group on Centenary Commemorations.
I also approved a grant allocation of €10,000 to assist the local authority in supporting the local commemorative committee and wider community in developing their plans, in recognition of the significance of the Soloheadbeg Ambush as the generally accepted first action in the War of Independence.
Significantly, on the same day of the Soloheadbeg ambush, Dáil Éireann was convened for the first time and a centenary commemoration of this milestone in the formation of the State was led by The Houses of the Oireachtas with the delivery of a diverse and inclusive public engagement programme which can be accessed at www.dail100.ie.