We are little more than 15 months away from a significant event that I hope will capture the public imagination, encourage us to look at our past and consider what we want for the future.
I am talking about the upcoming 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising.
The centenary is already stimulating a significant level of debate, which is something I welcome.
The relatives of those who fought and died in the Rising have been to the fore. They rightly feel that the sacrifice of their forefathers and the impact their actions had on the future of this country should be remembered and fully recognised. It should, and it will.
I have met with a number of groups of relatives, and my Department is in ongoing contact with groups and individual relatives not affiliated with any particular group.
Many of them have views on how the Rising should be commemorated. I am anxious to include relatives and my door remains open to their ideas.
Indeed, relatives are at the centre of the State events which will take place over Easter weekend 2016.
A State Reception will be held for relatives on Easter Saturday and on Easter Sunday representatives of relatives will lead the military parade on O’Connell Street.
It is essential that we commemorate the past and remember those who died. But I also believe that the commemorations belong to everyone, just as this country belongs to us all.
2016 should be about more than just looking back. This is a once in a generation opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the last century and to look collectively and ambitiously towards our future.
Ireland 2016 is a national and international series of events to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Rising and consider what we want to achieve in the next 100 years.
A huge amount of work is underway. We are partnering with local authorities to reach out to communities across the country.
A public consultation process is underway. I have been hugely encouraged by the response so far.
An education programme is being developed for our schools, so our young people will be centrally involved. Who better to evaluate the past and aspire to the future than the next generation?
The Arts will also be an essential element of Ireland 2016, with cultural institutions such as the National Museum and Library developing exciting programmes.
I want us to leave a permanent legacy from the commemorations.
I was very disappointed when Dublin City Council rejected plans for a visitor centre at Moore Street, to be developed in time for the centenary.
Despite suggestions to the contrary, the power to move the plan forward rests with the City Council and the monument owners and I hope an agreement can be reached.
There are seven other major projects being developed in time for 2016. The biggest is a major new interpretive and visitor centre at the GPO.
You might have noticed cranes there in recent days. The new centre, which is expected to attract up to 300,000 people per year, is on track for completion for 2016.
Other projects across the city include the refurbishment of Richmond Barracks and Kilmainham Gaol.
Ireland 2016 has the potential to be an exciting project which we can all be proud of. I would like everyone to join in as we respectfully remember our past and ambitiously re-imagine our future.
Heather Humphreys is Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht