Fine Gael TD for Dublin South-West, Colm Brophy, said yesterday that there is a need for a fixed date in the Irish calendar to commemorate those who lost their lives in the Great Famine.
Deputy Trophy raised the issue in Dáil before the summer recess and is renewing his call ahead of the commemoration this weekend. He said:
“This year’s National Famine Commemoration will take place this Sunday, 11th September at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin.
“The State commemoration will involve National flag and military honours, before culminating in a solemn wreath-laying. It is a very important occasion, which allows us to pay tribute to the memory of those who perished, emigrated and suffered during the Famine.
“Unfortunately however, the National Famine Commemoration Day, which is one of three national commemoration days held in Ireland every year, is the only one that does not have a fixed date in the calendar.
Mr Brophy questioned why the state has fixed dates to commemorate other events from our history but nothing for our nation’s most appalling tragedy.
“We have a fixed date to commemorate Easter 1916 and one to commemorate all those who died in other wars on behalf of our county.
“However, when it comes to what is, perhaps, our country’s greatest tragedy; it is somehow deemed not important enough to be marked by a permanent date in our calendar. This is no longer acceptable.
“We need a fixed date for a number of reasons. It will allow everyone to work towards the commemoration, on a yearly basis, and allows schools to make it part of the school curriculum.
“A permanent date, to which people could plan ahead, would also allow more of the Irish diaspora to attend the commemoration each year, which would be very fitting considering the impact the Famine had on emigration.
“There needs to be a change in our mentality when it comes to commemorating this momentous and terrible moment in our history. I feel that setting a fixed and permanent date in our diaries to remember and honour all those lost their lives would be a very positive step.”