Fianna Fáil Senator Dr. Keith Swanick has brought forward proposals to formally recognise the meeting of the first Dáil and the Declaration of Independence made on 21st January 1919.
The Declaration of Independence Day Bill, if passed, would provide for a formal recognition of this crucial political and historical event in Ireland, ensuring the formal designation of 21st January as “Declaration of Independence Day”.
Senator Swanick explained, “The importance of the events of 21st January 1919, with the meeting of the first Dáil and the Declaration of Independence, should be formally recognised and commemorated. The Declaration of Independence and the adoption of the Democratic Programme gave democratic legitimacy to the Proclamation of Independence of Easter 1916.
“This legislation is to ensure that the day (21st January) is officially recognised as Declaration of Independence Day, irrespective of the day on which it falls. There’s no plan to designate it a public holiday, but if the Oireachtas did pass this legislation it would allow schools, public bodies and community groups an opportunity to commemorate this hugely important event in an appropriate way. It would be extremely fitting that this legislation be in place well in advance of the 100th anniversary of the day in two years’ time.
“The hugely successful year-long 1916 Centenary commemoration saw over 3500 events in Ireland and 1200 abroad. These events have introduced a new generation of Irish people to the events of 1916 and the impact it had on our nation. It is also timely to remember that only twice in the last century have the people of the island of Ireland voted on the same day on the issue of our constitutional status – the first was the General Election of 1918, which elected the membership of the First Dáil and the second was the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.
“In proposing this legislation, I am conscious of the need to ensure that we adopt the correct approach, so as to ensure that 21st January 1919, a truly historic day Ireland, is given the recognition that it deserves.”