Irish Republican News · May 8, 2007
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Govt to mark Great Hunger

Campaigners have won a four-year battle to force the Dublin government to officially recognise an annual event to commemorate the Great Hunger.

The 26-County cabinet have snubbed invitations since 2003 to a small solemn procession in Dublin to mark the 19th-century disaster which decimated the Irish population through starvation and emigration.

The period is commonly referred to as a ‘Famine’, even though food was plentiful in Ireland at the time.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has now finally agreed to give state support to the May 27 event by holding a state reception afterwards in Iveagh House.

Junior foreign affairs minister Conor Lenihan will represent the government and guests at the event will include the US and Australian ambassadors.

The Tallaght-based Committee for the Commemoration of Irish Famine Victims has been lobbying TDs and organisations on the issue for the past four years.

Former Riverdance star Michael Flatley has supported the campaign, as have TDs Pat Rabbitte, Trevor Sargent, Caoimhghin O Caolain, Conor Lenihan, Charlie O’Connor, Sean Crowe and Conor Lenihan.

Every year up to 50 committee members and supporters dress in typical Irish 19th century clothing in the annual procession from the Garden of Remembrance on Parnell Square to the Famine Sculptures on Custom House Quay.

Committee chairman Michael Blanch said: “Government recognition of our event is a major achievement. The Famine took place only three generations ago and every country remembers disasters in its history whether it is the Holocaust or New York’s 9/11.

“The tens of thousands of victims are the people who have given us what we have today.”

The Dublin government is also said to be considering the establishment of an annual memorial day for the Great Hunger.

The National Museum at Collins Barracks is investigating the feasibility of gathering a major exhibition on the event.

Mr Ahern told the Dublin parliament last month: “I have asked that the matter be considered at official level, having regard to the appropriate timing and location of a commemorative event; the possible nature of the commemoration, reflecting the terrible loss of life; the links to the diaspora and the continuing issues of hunger and food security.”

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© 2007 Irish Republican News