At the present time, plans for marking the centenary events of this year, notably the Armistice on November 11, 1918, which ended the First World War, compete for attention with the coverage given to the possibility of a general election.
May I suggest that our politicians give some consideration to the unique opportunity of combining the next general election with the centenary of the election which took place in 1918?
Parliament was dissolved on November 25, 1918; voting took place on December 14; and the first Dáil Éireann met at the Mansion House, Dublin, on January 21, 1919. It would probably be too fanciful to suggest all parties might resolve the differences between them that were caused by the divisions over the Treaty and the subsequent Civil War but it seems eminently desirable that all parties should commit themselves to the ideals proclaimed by the first Dáil.
The ideals expressed in the Democratic Programme merit special attention at this time. It declared, among other things, that “it shall be the first duty of the Government of the Republic to make provision for the physical, mental, and spiritual well-being of the children, to secure that no child shall suffer hunger or cold from lack of food, clothing, or shelter, but that all shall be provided with the means and facilities requisite for their proper education and training as Citizens of a Free and Gaelic Ireland.”
Here we have some words not only to reflect upon but to commemorate and the timeline suggested above would provide a fitting context in which to mark the centenary of that event.