08 May 2006

All Irish urged to observe silent moment in honour of Famine dead

Irish Independent

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usIRISH people and emigrants abroad are being called on to observe a minute's silence for victims of the Famine.

The Committee For The Commemoration Of Irish Famine Victims believes the 19th-century disaster is as important in the State's history as the 1916 Easter Rising. The group is calling on people in the 32 counties as well as emigrants living abroad to observe a minute's silence at 2pm on May 28.

Every year on that day the Dublin-based commemoration committee leads a small procession from the city's Garden of Remembrance to the Famine Sculptures in the docklands.

The committee is also lobbying the Government to designate an annual all-Ireland memorial day to the victims of the Famine.

Committee chairman Michael Blanch said that every household had a relative who had died in the Famine. "It was only three generations ago and the victims were both Catholic and Protestant, so any commemoration can build bridges between the two communities.

"Every country remembers disasters in its history whether it is the Holocaust or America's 9/11 atrocity, and we cannot understand why Ireland doesn't have an annual event."

Mr Blanch envisages that the location of the commemoration could be rotated every year between the four provinces, and believes that the memorial day would be a gesture of solidarity towards all people who have suffered in famines.

The 150th anniversary of the Famine was marked in 1995 and the GAA also moved the 1947 All-Ireland football final to New York's Polo Grounds to honour the centenary.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has suggested that the Famine could be incorporated into the National Day of Commemoration - a annual ceremony to mark Ireland's war dead.

But the committee said this occasion specifically remembered dead Irish soldiers, and not civilians which comprised the Famine victims.

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