Thursday, 21 May 2020
Covid-19 (Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht): Statements
Josepha Madigan (Dublin Rathdown, Fine Gael)
I recall the Bill relating to the National Famine Commemoration Day.
It was a real shame it could not be held in Buncrana this year and they were looking forward to it. Last year we were in Sligo and although it rained for the entire afternoon, it was very poignant. The Taoiseach attended with me last year.
It is an important commemoration and I felt this year it received much more attention. That may well be as a result of Covid-19 and the fact that people relate, to a certain extent, more with the Famine than they used to. People often saw it as something abstract that happened between 1845 and 1849 and which did not have any impact on a day-to-day basis. Now people realise that one can die not from dysentery, smallpox or famine fever, as they did more than 100 years ago, but from Covid-19. It is why the commemoration was such a success.
This falls under my remit and I was very pleased with the attention it got this year. It would be wrong to say the Famine, to a certain extent, has been neglected but perhaps it is not in people's consciousness in the way that it should be. This year people realised how poignant and important it is to commemorate it. Our commemorations this year primarily focus on Cork and I launched that programme on 2 January. We are trying to work with Cork City Council and Cork County Council to commemorate the election of Tomás Mac Curtain and some of the assassinations in Cork. Other commemorations will take place later in the year, including a commemoration of the burning of Cork. We will be doing everything we can to work with people to commemorate adequately in a socially distancing world.