As we navigate through the most challenging and sensitive phase of the Decade of Centenaries, the Government's approach to commemorations will continue to be underpinned by the guidance of the Expert Advisory Group on Centenary Commemorations; and in consultation with the All Party Consultation Group on Commemorations, which I will reconvene shortly. The Expert Advisory Group has published three statements to date, which can be found on the Decade of Centenaries website (https://www.decadeofcentenaries.com/publications/). I would urge everyone who has an interest in the period of commemorations to consult the principles and advice laid down in these publications.
One of the cornerstones of the State's commemorative programme for the coming years will be to continue to further reconciliation on the island of Ireland and between Ireland and Britain.
I am committed to ensuring that the State's approach to the remembrance of all of those who lost their lives during this period will be based on the respectful, sensitive, measured and authentic ethos that is core to the Decade of Centenaries programme.
Historical accuracy, academic integrity and archival discovery will continue to be key tenets as the commemorative programme develops – following closely the centenary timeline of the events that occurred during this period. It is important that our history is faithfully presented, even when the historical record is distressing. We must acknowledge the great tragedy of the lives that were lost or irrevocably altered during those divisive and traumatic years.
I welcome and encourage the continuing research of historians and custodians of records, who seek to increase our understanding of the historical events that occurred, which have so significantly shaped our modern life.
The State’s Civil War commemorative programme invites everyone to consider the painful legacies of our past and reach their own conclusions – the programme will not seek to communicate a preferred narrative or make judgements about any persons or actions. It is not appropriate for the State to retrospectively analyse these historical events through the lens of contemporary perspectives. This is best left to scholars trained in the discipline of history. With regard to the centenary of the Civil War, the guidance of the Expert Advisory Group in this regard is clear –
“The State’s task is to encourage a reflective and a reconciliatory tone that recognises that neither side had the monopoly of either atrocity or virtue and this was true of words as well as actions”