Seanad debates

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


2:30 pm

Photo of Niall Ó DonnghaileNiall Ó Donnghaile (Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

I do not have a particular ask of the Leader today, per se, but I have set out a job of work for myself and I hope for other colleagues as well. I wish to talk briefly about reconciliation within the context of competing narratives, in particular as we continue to navigate our way through these most crucial years of the decade of centenaries, as they have become known. I think back to the example that I hope was set in Belfast City Hall where councillors invested £3.5 million in a permanent exhibition telling and reflecting the competing narratives and experiences of our collective past. While it has been testing and challenging at times, all of us, right across the traditions, have met the challenge head on, even though at times it has been hard and difficult for us. I think of that as one example.

I also think of the impressive sight of a portrait of the rebel countess, Countess Markievicz, being hung in Westminster as part of the centenary of the 1916 Rising and the 1918 election and history that was made. In this building too we reflect in equal stature people from a pro-Treaty and anti-Treaty perspective. We do not shy away from that, which is important. As we head further into the decade of centenaries we will all have to think of how we challenge ourselves and challenge each other to respectfully engage with our past, learn from it and build a better future for all of us.

I will outline the piece of work that I will undertake as a Belfast man. On this day in 1981 Kieran Doherty was elected Deputy for Cavan-Monaghan. He was an Anti-H Block/Armagh candidate. He was also a hunger striker in Long Kesh at the time. He died a short period after being elected and never got to take up his seat in Leinster House. Navigating again through the challenging and at times contesting and competing narratives of our past we reflect on how we also might reflect Kieran - his experience, community and constituency of that time who hold him in the highest regard, as we do in Belfast as well – his loss and sacrifice in this building alongside people who sacrificed in a similar vein.


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