361. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her views on the introduction of an annual commemoration of the meeting of the first Dáil on 21 January 1919 and the Declaration of Independence; if discussions have been held regarding same; the timeframe for the progress of the Declaration of Independence Day Bill 2017 through the Houses of the Oireachtas; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 4851/18 asked on 31 Jan 2018)

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Josepha Madigan): The first meeting of Dáil Éireann took place in the Round Room of the Mansion House on the afternoon of 21st January 1919. The elected members present at that meeting asserted the exclusive right of the elected representatives of the Irish people to legislate for the country, adopting a Constitution and approving the Declaration of Independence. At that meeting, the Dáil also approved a Democratic Programme, based on the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic and read and adopted a Message to the Free Nations of the World.

I believe that an event to mark this momentous occasion in our history is appropriate and this will be one of the key historical events to be marked by the State in 2019. My Department is consulting and collaborating with relevant stakeholders, including the Expert Advisory Group on Commemorations, in order to progress plans in this regard. The State’s approach to the appropriate commemoration of this sensitive and challenging period in our history will be guided at all times by the advice of the Expert Advisory Group on Commemorations. I am aware also that the Houses of the Oireachtas are planning a significant programme of events to mark this centenary and I and my Department will work with colleagues there, where possible.

With regard to the progression of the Declaration of Independence Day Bill 2017 this is a matter for the Houses of the Oireachtas.