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.
My aim is to provide a supportive structure that ensures that these, often deeply personal, events are remembered at county and community level in a respectful, measured, and non-partisan manner. I believe that local authorities have a significant role in encouraging appropriate and authentic citizen engagement, debate, and analysis, which is sensitive to the local context.
Under the Community Strand of the commemorative programme for the coming period, I am encouraging a collaborative approach - similar to that adopted for the 1916 centenary commemorations - between the State, local authority network and community organisations.
It is, I believe, very fitting that local authorities have a leading role in supporting inclusive and meaningful community-led commemorations which 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 have, my Department hosted a special Decade of Centenaries forum for the local authorities on 13th March. This event offered an important and timely opportunity to share their learnings to date with each other and also their views on how they plan to navigate the period ahead.
I might add that officials from Kildare County Council gave a very insightful and informative, shared presentation at the forum, which was very positively received. I am very encouraged to learn that local authorities have already given significant and thoughtful consideration as to how they will plan for commemorations at county and community level over the remainder of the Decade.
This year, I approved a funding allocation of €10,000 for each local authority, including Kildare County Council, to support their commemorative programming this year. Funding allocations for local authorities over the coming years will be considered as part of the annual estimates budgetary processes.