State advised on further events in ’decade of commemorations
War of Independence dead to be recalled but questions arise over ’Black and Tans’
Members of the Defence Forces, Army, Navy and Aer Corp at the GPO in Dublin during the Easter Sunday Commemoration, marking the 103rd Anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising. Photograph: Alan Betson
A “small number” of State commemorations are planned over the next three years to continue the “decade of commemorations” marking the emergence of the Irish State.
While the list has yet to be approved and published by Government, the chairman of the Government’s expert advisory group a on centenary commemorations Maurice Manning has recommended the proposals include:
* A State commemoration for all those who lost thier lives during the struggle for independence. This would take place on July 11th, 2021, the State’s National Day of Commemoration which recognised all Irish people who died in past wars or United Nations peacekeeping missions.
* A State commemoration focussed on remembrance and conciliation to take place on a “neutral” date for all those who suffered and died during the civil war. The date has yet to be decided.
* A State ceremonial event in Dublin Castle to be held on January 16th 2022, to mark the start of the formal hand over of power, the handing over of the Castle on January 16th, 1922.
* A State commemoration to be held on December 6th 2022, to recognise the “pioneering leaders” who did so much to embed democratic processes, and to mark the centenary of the formal coming into being of the Irish Free State.
* An academic conference to commemorate the partitioning of Ireland and the coming into being of Northern Ireland. The conference would examine other, contemporaneous partitions in Europe and acknowledge that in this Ireland was not unique.
* An event to mark the accession of the State into the League of Nations in 1923.
Addressing the Oireachtas Committee on Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht on Wednesday Mr Manning also said a “legacy” project would involve the digital recreation of the Public Record Office of Ireland. Mr Manning said it was envisaged that local authorities and community groups would have a leading role in the programme of commemorations.
However a revelation by Conor Falvey assistant secretary general of the Department of Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht of a draft budget for local authorities, to sponsor commemorative events, of €10,000 each, per year, from 2020 to 2023, was greeted with dismay by some committee members .
The amount “wouldn’t whitewash the wall” Committee member Senator Marie-Louise O’Donnell said.
Senator Fintan Warfield asked if the commemoration of all who had lost lives in the War of Independence would include the members of the Black and Tans, as he felt that might yet be controversial. He also questioned whether events would be international - for instance whether there would be some acknowledgement of the death in Brixton Prison of the Lord Mayor of Cork Terence MacSwiney, in 1920. Mr Warfield also said the burning of Cork should be commemorated by a significant national event.