My priority is to ensure that the Government's approach to the remembrance of the significant historical events and related themes of the period 1919-1923 is appropriate, measured, respectful, inclusive and sensitive to the different perspectives that persist on the events of this period.
This approach will continue to be informed by the guidance of the Expert Advisory Group on Centenary Commemorations including its most recent guidance, which I published on 8th January (https://www.chg.gov.ie/minister-madigan-announces-publication-of-guidance-of-the-expert-advisory-group-on-decade-of-centenaries-1919-1923/). 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 have allocated €1.1m to support the Decade of Centenaries Programme in 2019, an increase of €250k on 2018 and I will seek to continue to adequately and appropriately resource the programme in future years.
The centenary of many of the relevant events are concentrated in the period 2020-2022 but the events of 21st January 1919 were defining moments on our journey towards nationhood.
On Sunday, 20th January I will represent the Government at a community-led centenary commemoration of the Soloheadbeg Ambush, generally recognised as the first action in the War of Independence.
Significantly, on the day of the ambush Dáil Éireann was also convened for the first time. The Houses of the Oireachtas are leading plans to mark this centenary and have developed a diverse and inclusive public engagement programme – accessible at www.dáil100.ie.
The Decade of Centenaries Programme 2019-2023 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;
- 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; and
- 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.
I look forward to working with colleagues in the Oireachtas and communities across Ireland, in appropriately commemorating these important events.