Taoiseach Enda Kenny was on hand in Drogheda, Co Louth for the National Famine Commemoration Day. Kenny spoke in front of a crowd of 1,500 people who turned out to remember those lost during the Famine.
Kenny stated that the horrific experience of the Famine had helped later generations of Irish help other starving peoples.
“It is vital that, through remembering and honouring the victims of our own Great Hunger, we strive to ensure food, dignity, opportunity, humanity itself, for all peoples in all parts of the world where starvation and under-nutrition exist, whether as a fact or a possibility,” said Kenny.
He said that Ireland had a stellar record in humanitarian aid and in other issues related to the Famine. “We make them our personal business because they run so deep in the Irish heart, the Irish experience and the Irish psyche,” he said.
Mr Kenny added that Ireland’s leadership role, when it came to tackling world hunger, had been recognised by United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-Moon last month, when he appointed two prominent Irish people, Tom Arnold and Mary Robinson, to the Scaling Up Nutrition lead group.
The Commemoration was held in Drogheda this year as that was the second largest port of departure during the era of the Famine in Ireland. Joining Kenny for the Commemoration were Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, amd Ministers Jimmy Deenihan, Francis Fitzgerald, Richard Bruton, Dinny McGinley and Fergus O'Dowd.
To pay homage to the harrowing times of the Famine, members of the Little Duke Theatre in Drogheda performed a special dance and displayed emblems symbolic of the Famine, including a potato, a soup kitchen ration card, a boat ticket to Liverpool and a small section of a thatched roof.
During his speech, Taoiseach Kenny said that Ireland has now taken upon itself the cause providing aid for global hunger.
Of food security and humanitarian aid, Kenny said, “we make them our personal business because they run so deep in the Irish heart.” Kenny pointed to generational memory as a factor in the drive to help provide aid around the world.
To learn more about Ireland’s Great Famine, go to www.angortamor.org.