Fianna Fáil Senator Dr. Keith Swanick says he hopes a Bill, which would see the 21st January recognised as our national Independence Day, will be passed by the Dáil and signed into law before the 100th anniversary of the sitting of the first Dáil next year.

The Declaration of Independence Day Bill 2017 passed all stages in the Seanad today and is likely to come before the Dáil in the autumn.

The First Dáil met in the Round Room of the Mansion House in Dublin on 21st January 1919, at which it asserted the exclusive right of the elected representatives of the Irish people to legislate for the country. During the meeting, the elected members present adopted a Provisional Constitution and approved a Declaration of Independence. Dáil Éireann, a new national Parliament for the Irish nation approved a democratic programme, based on the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic.

Senator Swanick explained, “Over the past few years we have commemorated a number of important events in our history and I believe sitting of the first Dáil is of such historical importance that it too should be marked.

“There was huge public participation during the 1916 commemorations, with communities right across the country organising and engaging in events.  Similarly, the 100th anniversary of the parliamentary vote for women in Ireland has seen exhibitions and events taking place.  I believe that the sitting of the first Dáil deserves to be honoured.

“The Bill, which has been passed in the Seanad today, would allow schools, public bodies and community groups an opportunity to commemorate this hugely important day in a suitable and patriotic way.  It does not designate 21st January as a public holiday, but it does ensure that it is marked appropriately.

“No one party should claim ownership or attempt to claim ownership of the first Dáil or the Declaration of Independence. There will always be difference of opinion about how we remember the past but I believe it is not only appropriate, but imperative, that this momentous day in our history be formally recognised on an annual basis.

“I would like to thank my colleagues from all parties and none for the overwhelming support which they have given me with regards to this Bill, and I am hopeful that it will receive similar support when it comes before the Dáil in the autumn.

“The 100th anniversary of the first Dáil is next January and it would be timely if this legislation was enacted before then”.