A public consultation process is necessary to help shape our new approach to the commemoration of the Great Famine, and to give people a sense of ownership of it, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Dublin South West TD, Colm Brophy, last year tabled Dáil legislation to enshrine in law an annual Famine Commemoration date, and the Bill has Government support. He is now calling for a public consultation to help shape such a commemoration event and any planned new famine memorials.
Deputy Brophy said: “I have been working on the idea of a National Famine Commemoration for quite some time now and I am delighted with the Government’s support of my legislation to enshrine in law an annual Famine Commemoration date.
“Now that my legislation is progressing through the Oireachtas, I am calling for a public consultation on the kind of Famine Commemoration we would like to see in this country. Such a consultation could also assess people’s thoughts on famine memorials; the suitable locations and what type of commemorative pieces would be appropriate.
“The reforms to the Percent for Art Scheme introduced this year by my Fine Gael colleague, the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan, will significantly increase funding for public works of art, providing an additional source of funding for commemorative works of art.
“Public consultation will be crucial to help shape our new approach to famine commemoration and to give people a sense of ownership of it.
“I felt we needed a fixed date to properly commemorate our famine history in order to allow everyone to work towards the event on a yearly basis. It doesn’t have to be a set date but could be a set weekend each year for example. Allowing people to plan ahead to a fixed date will encourage more of the Irish diaspora to attend the commemoration each year. This would be very fitting considering the impact the Famine had on emigration and of course it will be really good for tourism. It will also allow schools to make it part of the curriculum in a more formal way.
“I will raise the suggestion of a public consultation with Minister Madigan, to whom I am grateful for her existing support of my Famine Commemoration legislation.”