New Bill will fix the second Sunday in May as the annual National Famine Commemoration Day
Most Irish people are unaware that Ireland has a National Famine Commemoration Day, and this has contributed to a scant awareness among younger generations of the causes and impact of the Great Famine in the 1840s, Fine Gael TD, Colm Brophy, said today.
Deputy Brophy made his comments during debate on his National Famine Commemoration Day Bill 2017, which came before the Dáil today.
National Famine Commemoration Day was first introduced in 2008 with the aim of creating one dedicated day in the year for Irish citizens and diaspora around the world to reflect on one of Ireland’s most significant historical events, which resulted in the death of one million people from starvation.
“Unfortunately now, nine years on from the first National Famine Commemoration Day – all too few people in this country even know this National Day exists. Very few talk about this event and even fewer children in our schools learn about this day when they study the Great Famine as part of the school curriculum. Today’s Bill will ensure this event is given due status and recognition, and will fix the second Sunday in May as the annual National Famine Commemoration Day.
“The Great Famine marked a watershed in our history. It was not inevitable that Ireland would suffer this famine but a combination of circumstances and inept response by the British administration combined together ensured that the Famine would turn into one of the greatest tragedies of the 19th Century.
“President Higgins said something incredibly impactful at last year’s Commemoration event. He said that: ‘’We now have the capacity to anticipate the threat of Famine, we have the capacity to take measures to avoid it; and yet we allow nearly a billion people across our world to live in conditions of extreme but avoidable hunger.”
“By introducing a fixed day of commemoration, the second Sunday in May, this Bill is bringing certainty to this important day where no such certainty currently existed. As a society we must remember our past appropriately to learn where we’ve come from. That is the only way we can navigate successfully towards the future.”