My objective in approaching the development of the State commemorative programme for the years from 2019 to 2023 is to ensure that, in remembering this complex period in our history, which includes the struggle for independence, the Civil War, the foundation of the State and partition, 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.
On 8 January, I outlined how the Government plans to approach the development of the commemorative programme for the coming period. Under the community strand, I am encouraging a collaborative approach, similar to that adopted for the 1916 centenary commemorations, between the State, the local authority network and community organisations, including in Northern Ireland where appropriate. It is, I believe, very fitting that local authorities have a leading role in supporting inclusive, respectful and meaningful community-led commemorations that remember all of the lives lost, augmented as appropriate with support from the State, which will be considered on a case-by-case basis. In recognition of the very important role that local authorities have played to date, and will continue to play, in encouraging measured and authentic citizen engagement, which is sensitive to the local context, I have requested my officials to organise a special decade of centenaries forum for local authorities, which, as I have said, will take place on 13 March.
With regard to the Deputy’s specific query, I can confirm that I have approved funding of €5,000 to support each local authority, including Wexford County Council, in developing commemorative activities in 2018. I will make a further announcement in respect of funding for 2019 shortly. Funding allocations over the coming years will be considered as part of the annual budgetary Estimates process. I encourage local authorities to adopt a broad focus in responding to the significant events and themes of this period, which recognises all of the dimensions interwoven with the conflict, including military activity, the political context and the social, economic and cultural aspects and legacies.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
I believe that, building on the success of the commemorative programme to date, local authorities, our national cultural institutions, trade unions, the media, institutions of learning, and custodians of records, together with creative communities, will have a leading role in supporting the national conversation about the events of this period and encouraging respectful and authentic engagement, debate and analysis