President Michael D. Higgins introduces the Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme.
In 2016 we celebrate the beginnings of our independence. We honour the courage, dignity and ideals that characterised the events and people of 1916, whose beliefs and actions make it possible for us to remember and reflect on the full richness of our history, and the diversity of people and events that are part of what we are today.
The 31 community programmes for 2016 are the outcome of thousands of hours of reflection. People of all ages and backgrounds came forward with their wish and their suggestions as to how to rekindle an idealism that in 1916 found expression in the desire to be free, to be the authors of our own destiny and carriers of our cultural heritage, to be equal among ourselves and among the nations – to create a country worthy of the description “Republic”.
We reflect on the events of the past, including the great literary revival that preceded 1916 in order to imagine, and then create, a better future. We recall a decade that includes the 1913 Lockout and the beginning of a world war as well as the founding events of 1916 so that we can build a future that honours the promise of equality and inclusiveness.
In 2016 we should also honour all those who have built peace and brought people together on this island, re-dedicate ourselves to that work – so that reconciliation becomes more than mere tolerance; becomes active engagement with, and sharing of, ideas and aspirations.
More than anything, 2016 should be a year in which, together, we remember, reflect and re-imagine, a year in which we unify our endeavours to discover what we can do to create and sustain a life of fulfilment for all those with whom we share this Planet.