Speech by the Tánaiste at the launch of the 31 local authority plans for the Ireland 2016 centenary programme

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I'm delighted to be here in the Irish Museum of Modern Art to mark another important milestone in the Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme – the launch of the 31 Local Authority Plans.

The depth and breadth of initiatives being launched here is hugely important.

Because they will help ensure that the commemorations belong to every community, and not just some.

That is in keeping with a wider and fundamental truth.

2016 will belong to everyone on this island and to our friends and families overseas – regardless of political background.  

We made this very clear when launching the Centenary Programme earlier this year – the commemorations have to be inclusive and reflective of all narratives on this island.  

It was, after all, a cornerstone of the 1916 Proclamation – that the Republic would guarantee "religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities of all its citizens".

It is therefore only right that we ensure political debate, discussion and analysis of all the threads which have led to the creation of our modern state.

I see from all the programmes being launched here today that at local level, this spirit of inclusivity and diversity has been respected.  

The range of programmes and initiatives and the multiplicity of themes on which they are based show how we have matured as a society.

I'm also delighted to see that the role of women in the events of 1916 - which was largely forgotten in the commemorations of 1966 - has been rediscovered.

Rosie Hackett is, of course, just one example – but a very notable one.

Thanks to an admirable campaign by Labour Youth, Dublin's newest bridge was named in Rosie Hackett's honour in 2013.

But before that, Rosie's name had slipped out of the wider public consciousness.

Yet read Rosie's eyewitness statements on the events of 1916 – which are publicly available thanks to the Bureau of Military History – and it becomes evident the extent to which women were involved in the Rising.

That eyewitness statement reads like part-film script, part-terrible evocation of the horrors of conflict.

In Rosie's own words:

"I was stationed at the first-aid post in the park. It was very exciting there. We were under very heavy fire from late on Monday evening. Even when we marked out the first-aid post with a red sign, they did not recognise it and kept firing at us."

So I am glad that the role of women in the Rising will, rightly, be remembered properly in our commemorations.

Projects and initiatives marking this contribution can be found throughout the county plans for next year.  

The Taoiseach already mentioned Dr Kathleen Lynn in his native Co Mayo.

I would also like to highlight some other important projects such as:

Blind Spots in Cork City, a major visual arts installation by Aideen Barry, artist and grand-niece of Tom Barry, which explores the position of women in Ireland across the 100-year period.

In Cavan, the Museum Quilters Group, Cavan Library Craft Groups and the ICA will design a unique quilt depicting the role of women in Irish history.

This work will be exhibited throughout the county during 2016.

In Galway, an important seminar will take place in Ballinasloe on the role of women in 1916 with specific focus on Cumann na mBan.

This seminar will be developed in partnership with a local heritage group in Ballinasloe who work to promote the life and times of Ada English, a member of Cumann na mBan.

There really is a wealth of initiatives and programmes right across the country and I would like to thank all of you here today for the efforts made over the last few months to engage with local communities in this complex task.  

The plans being launched here today a true example of community participation and I look forward to seeing the outcome of these plans as they are rolled out next year.

Go raibh maith agaibh.

Last modified:08/10/2015