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Wednesday 11 December 2019

Humphreys: I'm still in charge of 1916 celebration

Heather Humphreys
Heather Humphreys
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

ARTS Minister Heather Humphreys has insisted her position has not been undermined by a major shake-up in the project to commemorate the 1916 Easter Rising.

Ms Humphreys said last night she was leading the commemorative programme, despite the appointment of Failte Ireland director John Concannon, who was heavily involved in The Gathering, as event coordinator.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny plans to become more prominently involved in the project as will Martin Fraser, the secretary general to the Government, who has chaired a senior group of officials working on the commemorations since 2011.

Mr Concannon was appointed to the role after a successful presentation to the Cabinet last month.

However, Ms Humphreys has insisted she remains in charge of the project.

"I was determined to have the right team in place to ensure that the commemorations are a success," the minister said.

Ms Humphreys said Mr Concannon would be based in her department and that she hoped to build on the community and diaspora links built during The Gathering.

While the appointment of Mr Concannon has been well received, TDs and senators on an All Party Consultation Group which has been advising the Government have queried why they were not informed or consulted about the appointment.

A member of the group, Senator Mark Daly, said Ms Humphreys never mentioned the appointment at a meeting of the group last Thursday.

"It appears not only the minister herself, but representatives of all the political parties in Leinster House have been sidelined. We are surprised we were not told about this significant development," he said.

Mr Concannon's appointment, which was revealed in yesterday's Irish Independent, was welcomed by a group representing relatives of participants in the Rising.

The 1916 Relatives Association, which has over 800 members, said the development marked "a new dawn".

However, it was deeply critical of the performance of the Department of Arts, Tourism and the Gaeltacht to date.

In a statement, the group said it had been "subjected to a long line of misinformation and false promises".

Irish Independent

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