Just one day after the United Sates celebrated its Independence Day in America, the Declaration of Independence Day Bill, 2017 passed second stage in Seanad Éireann. July 5th 2017 saw the proposals for an Irish Day of Independence debated on the floor of the Seanad with broad based cross-party support.
The Fianna Fáil bill proposes formally recognising January 21st as the “Declaration of Independence Day” as it was on this date in 1919 that the inaugural meeting of the first Dáil took place in the Round Room at Dublin’s Mansion House. The legislation, if passed, would provide for a formal recognition of this crucial political and historical event in Ireland.
There is no plan to legislate for this day to become a public holiday but if it did pass it would allow schools, public bodies and community groups an opportunity to commemorate this hugely important day in a very appropriate way.
As 2019 marks 100 years since the first sitting I believe it not only timely but also appropriate that this legislation be in place to commemorate it to the level it should. Last year the Centenary Celebrations for 1916 were uplifting and educational, from the national events to the individual events hosted by each Local Authority. It helped create awareness about the events of 1916 and the impact that it had on our country. A new generation of Irish people have been introduced to the story of 1916.
No one party should attempt to claim ownership of the first Dáil or the Declaration of Independence. Many of the political figures went on to play significant roles in Irish life including future Taoisigh, Presidents and Ministers. We should all unite around this one act of national self-determination because the period that follows gets more complex and more decisive with the War of Independence, the Treaty and the Civil War.