1993: White Paper presented to Irish Government

1993: White Paper presented to Irish Government

“In 1993 representatives from AFrI met with Fianna Fail Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach, Tom Kitt, and offered recommendations for an official commemorative programme based on a five-point agenda: the similarity of the eventual plan adopted by the government to AFrI’s proposals leave no doubt as to its central influence on the eventual shape of the commemorations. Indeed, it was during AFrI’s seventh annual Famine walk in Louisburgh, Co. Mayo, that Minister Kitt officially announced the establishment of the government’s National Famine Commemoration committee in May 1994, to be lead under his direction.”

Emily Mark-Fitzgerald

“Commemorating The Irish Famine – Memory and the Monument” (Liverpool University Press 2013)

National Famine Memorial, Murrisk, Co. Mayo

In early 1993 Don Mullan saw a letter published in both the Irish Times and the Irish-American newspaper, the Irish Voice, criticising the Irish Government for doing nothing to commemorate the approaching 150th anniversary of the Great Irish Famine. He considered the criticism unfair as most politicians find it hard to think beyond their four year term. Consequently, he initiated a White Paper on behalf of AFrI which was presented to the Minister for State at the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, Tom Kitt.

Minister Kitt acknowledged that the AFrI paper was the first presented by any organisation in Ireland or the Irish

The Jeanie Johnston crossing the Atlantic Ocean

world to the Government with concrete proposals concerning the anniversary. The White Paper included suggestions for a national memorial in Co. Mayo, an Atlantic crossing to commemorate those who perished as political and economic refugees; and linking an increase in Official Development Assistance to the 150th anniversary. The AFrI proposals were, variously, implemented.

Furthermore, the paper led to the then Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds, instructing Minister Kitt to establish an inter-departmental committee to plan for the 150th anniversary. The influence of this committee is still ongoing and eventually led to the establishment of an official Great Famine Commemoration Day in 2009.

In her book, “Commemorating The Irish Famine – Memory and the Monument” (Liverpool University Press 2013), Irish academic, Emily Mark-Fitzgerald, wrote: “In 1993 representatives from AFrI met with Fianna Fail Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach, Tom Kitt, and offered recommendations for an official commemorative programme based on a five-point agenda: the similarity of the eventual plan adopted by the government to AFrI’s proposals leave no doubt as to its central influence on the eventual shape of the commemorations. Indeed, it was during AFrI’s seventh annual Famine walk in Louisburgh, Co. Mayo, that Minister Kitt officially announced the establishment of the government’s National Famine Commemoration committee in May 1994, to be lead under his direction. “

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