Thursday 17 October 2019

Howlin writes to Taoiseach calling for date change to Presidential Inauguration

Labour leader Brendan Howlin. Photo: Frank McGrath
Labour leader Brendan Howlin. Photo: Frank McGrath

Denise Calnan and Laura Larkin

Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin today wrote to the Taoiseach calling on him to change the date of the Presidential Inauguration.

The inauguration of the next President of Ireland will clash with the centenary of the World War I Armistice, but the Government has said its hands are tied on the date.

TD Brendan Howlin said today the clash is "unfortunate" but can "be easily rectified".

"I do not need to remind the Taoiseach of the particular significance of the anniversary of the cessation of World War One for many Irish men and women, including especially those descended from or related to the more than 250,000 from this island who served in that war," he said in a statement today.

"While in a previous generation the anniversary would have been marked only by those of a unionist background, we have learned in this decade of centenaries to be more inclusive in our commemorations.

"The Taoiseach has put on record many times that he is personally committed to such an approach.

"The impression I get from the comments of Ministers Eoghan Murphy and Simon Harris and from Government spokespersons is that the Government believes its hands are tied on the choice of date. I do not believe this to be the case."

The Constitution provides that a presidential term must start 'on the day following the expiration of the term of office of his predecessor or as soon as may be thereafter' which falls at midnight on November 10.

However, Mr Howlin said he believes there are "sound reasons" for just one day's delay of the inauguration in this case.

"I believe the Constitution provides latitude for the date of the inauguration to be moved," he added.

Armistice Day is observed each year to commemorate the signing of the treaty which ended the war.

Some 30,000 Irish soldiers died during World War I.

Health Minister Simon Harris said the issue was a "logistical" one that the Government would reflect on.

"As a country we've shown a maturing in relation to this in recent years, which is very welcome in commemorating a range of events in a sensitive manner," he said.

On the clash between the two events, he said: "I'm sure this is something Government will reflect on further, but there is a logistical issue in the need to inaugurate."

Irish Independent

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