Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs if she will update Dail Eireann on the progress in 2011 in organizing the Irish Famine memorial day; the date on which the national Famine commemoration committee is meeting; the names of members of the committee; the discussions she had with her counterpart in the Northern Assembly relative to the event being hosted in the North of Ireland in 2011; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald):
The National Famine Commemoration Committee was appointed for a second term of office in February of this year. The committee has broad role in terms of serving, on behalf of the Government, to generate ideas and make recommendations regarding appropriate arrangements for the annual commemoration of the Great Famine and related events.
The first meeting of the new committee took place on 2 February 2011 and a range of issues in relation to the 2011 commemoration were discussed. As the Deputy will be aware, building on the precedents of the commemorations of recent years, the 2011 National Famine Commemoration is scheduled to take place in Ulster. At present, officials from the relevant Government Departments are liaising in relation to these matters. In this regard, I am advised that contacts have taken place with a range of interested parties in Northern Ireland. It is hoped that another meeting of the National Famine Commemoration Committee will take place shortly to discuss options around the 2011 event.
The current membership of the National Famine Commemoration Committee is as follows:
– Dr Majda Bne Saad – Prof Thomas Cooke – Mr Brian Hanratty
– Ms Terri Kearney – Ms Mary Kennedy – Mr Justin Kilcullen
– Dr Eamon Phoenix – Mr Hugh Swift – Prof Rionach UiOgain
– Dr Patrick Wallace
The committee is also supported by officials from relevant Government Departments/Offices, including my own Department; the Department of the Taoiseach; the Department of Foreign Affairs; the Department of Education and Skills; the Department of Defence; Irish Aid; the Defence Forces; and OPW.