The Great Famine Tribunal Committee will host an international tribunal in New York this October to examine from a legal perspective the response of the authorities to an Gorta Mór.
An estimated one million Irish people died as a result of starvation and epidemic disease between 1846 and 1851 due to a potato blight. Some two million others emigrated.
Last Friday over 80 supports of the tribunal gathered for an ‘Irish famine soup night’ in New York City to discuss the October 20 conference, which is to take place at Fordham Law School.
The object of the Tribunal is to assess the impact of the Irish Famine on the Irish population,
and to examine its political, economic, cultural and physiological legacies, all within a legal
“This has never been done from a legal perspective,” Owen Rodgers, the chair of the tribunal, told IrishCentral.
The committee will investigate the nature of the catastrophe and the various steps taken to
counteract its severity by the responsible institutions of governance, not least the Imperial
Parliament at Westminster.
A second day of activities will be devoted to educational issues, including a study of famine in today’s world.
“It is intended to consider the overall situation in the widest appropriate context with discussion of contemporary responses within the United Kingdom and by comparison with the responses of other Continental powers to food shortages in their countries,” Rodgers said in a statement.
Patrons of the tribunal include Professor Christine Kinealy; Robert Ballagh, the Irish artist; Brian Friel, playwright; Stephen Rea, actor,Professor Declan Kiberd; Dr. Ruan O'Donnell; Dr. Garrett O’Connor, President, Betty Ford Clinic LA; Fionnula Flanagan, actress; Brian O Dwyer, lawyer; Peter Quinn, writer; Frank McManus, former MP; Fr. Sean McManus; Tom Murphy, Irish playwright; and Chris Byrne, singer; Marie Jones, playwright; Martin Lynch, writer and producer.