Every nation has historic dates etched into its national consciousness and 1916 is the seminal date in ours.
From the actions of the brave few who took up arms during the Rising flowed our current independence and nationhood and while we can and should look back on the historic events of 1916 with a certain pride, we must also recognise the suffering, pain and destruction that also occurred at that time.
The centenary of the Rising is now on the horizon and I believe it to be of the utmost importance that a substantial commemorative programme be organised in respect of the events which led to the foundation of the State.
Indeed, we are duty bound to appropriately commemorate these achievements that have shaped the modern Ireland we live in today.
Any commemoration should reflect not only on the military aspect of what was a difficult struggle but equally on the principles and vision which inspired the movement to achieve independence.
A broad and inclusive commemorative programme would bring to attention the economic and social conditions of the period as well as the shifting of cultural tides. It is also my belief that the Irish abroad could also play a real role in this national effort.
As we move towards the centenary of this most important historical event, it is imperative that the social, cultural, economic, administrative and political environments that shaped it be understood.
I am confident that this new website will play a significant role in this regard given that the internet has become the chief medium through which young people in particular can be reached most effectively.
When I was elected Taoiseach in March, I stated that my goals going into Government were to make Ireland the best small country in the world in which to do business by 2016, the best country in which to raise a family and the best in which to grow old with dignity and respect.
I have set 2016 as my marker for these goals and I look forward to it as a time when we will come together to acknowledge the events of 1916 and also look forward to a brighter future.
I wish this venture every success.
Enda Kenny, TD, leader of Fine Gael
‘That we have one of the world’s longest-established
democracies is their ultimate legacy’ – Micheal Martin
In the rising of Easter 1916 patriots sacrificed their lives to give freedom to future generations. They summed up their creed in a proclamation which is a remarkable and still inspiring call to action. As Thomas MacDonagh defiantly told his court-martial: “Such documents do not die.”
The objectives of the Proclamation and the Rising which commenced upon its first public reading were profoundly egalitarian, fraternal and democratic.
Its signatories were people of foresight, valour and distinction who espoused progressive politics. The vision of the men and women of 1916 was of an Ireland united, independent and at peace; an Ireland that is equal and fair; an Ireland that is prosperous, and an Ireland that provides for all its people, young and old.
We do not have to search in order to find its continuing relevance to all who care about Ireland.
Many storied of the leaders of 1916 are well known, but there is so much more for people to gain if they take the time to read the primary sources and to seek a deeper understanding of the many others who answered their country’s call in 1916.
Preserving and promoting our history through new digital technology is extremely important and is making historical material much more accessible and interactive.
I want to thank all of those involved and wish them well with the project.
Michéal Martin, TD, leader of Fianna Fáil