We are at the start of more than a decade of significant anniversaries. Some of them are 400th anniversaries and cover the period of the Plantation of Ulster, with events such as the granting of the charter to the City of Londonderry in 1613. Others are 100th anniversaries and cover the period from 1912 to 1921, with the Ulster covenant in 1912 and the formation of Northern Ireland in 1921.
These are two key periods in history and unless we understand them we cannot understand who and what we are today in Northern Ireland. For that reason I am keen to promote a better understanding of those periods and the events that happened in them as a contribution to a 'shared and better future'. Here is an opportunity to explore and examine history and an opprotunity to question some of the myths that have contributed to division in our society.
DCAL has responsibility for a number of key arms-length bodies such as PRONI, National Museums Northern Ireland, the Arts Council and Libraries NI and they have the archives and resources that are needed for this sort of exploration.
This year is the 400th aniversary of the start of the plantation and therefore we need to press on with this initiative. I have statred a conversation with the arms-length bodies about these matters and it is something i am determined to pursue.