Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Ceisteanna (93)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

93. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the role of her Department in planning for State commemorations in 2019. [48203/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar 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. The All Party Consultation Group also has a significant contribution to make. I look forward to continued positive engagement and consultation with both groups over the coming period.

Plans to mark the centenary of the Soloheadbeg Ambush on 21st January 2019 are well advanced. Tipperary County Council is supporting this community-led commemoration as part of a broader commemorative programme across the county to mark the centenary of the Independence Struggle. My Department is collaborating with Tipperary County Council to support these plans, in accordance with the most recent guidance of the Expert Advisory Group, which states that:

'Many of the events of this period have great local significance; it is therefore appropriate for local authorities and local community organisations to be encouraged to lead the commemorative process. Some events have been commemorated annually for decades and it would be inappropriate for the State to compete with these established ceremonies.

21st January also marks the centenary of the convening of the First Dáil. It is, I believe, very fitting that the Houses of the Oireachtas has a leading role in developing an inclusive and appropriate programme to mark this significant centenary and I understand that plans are well advanced in this regard.

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, 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. 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.

- A 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.