Speech by Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan TD, at the launch of the National Library of Ireland’s Diversity & Inclusion Policy
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Good afternoon everyone. I’m delighted to be here with you today to launch the National Library’s Diversity and Inclusion Policy and I would like to thank Dr. Sandra Collins and the staff in the National Library for showing real leadership in developing this policy.
It is clear that the world is changing at a rapid pace – increased globalisation and digitisation can connect us more easily across time zones and borders but can also disconnect us – and in these fast moving times, it is becoming more important that we remember who we are and what we stand for, how we have evolved as a society and where we come from – now more than ever we need to connect with our unique Irish heritage and celebrate it’s diversity.
The National Library collect, protect and make available the recorded memory of Ireland and it is a hugely important role. Even more important is the need for these collections to be representative of all aspects of Irish society and all of our citizens. This is why I welcome the development of this specific policy on diversity and inclusion and why it is so timely.
I am delighted to see that the National Library is fully committed to equality of opportunity and fosters equality of participation in the Library, regardless of gender, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, religious belief, age, disability, race, membership of the Traveller community or socio-economic status.
I understand that following the Gender Equality Workshop held in April 2017 by my predecessor, Minister Humphreys, both the Executive and Board of the NLI agreed that a process to develop a Diversity and Inclusion policy was a timely and appropriate response, and that this policy would address gender equality as a part of a wider diversity and inclusion programme.
Tuigim go raibh an fhoireann i ngach earnáil den Leabharlann Náisiúnta páirteach i bhfócasghrúpaí agus i gcomhairliúcháin chun a chinntiú go mbeadh éagsúlacht agus cuimsiú i ngníomhaíochtaí, i gcleachtais agus i mbeartais NLI – agus ba mhaith liom buíochas a ghabháil le foireann na Leabharlainne as dul i mbun na hoibre thar a bheith tábhachtach seo.
Through this process you now have a National Cultural Institution which sees their role as providing access, visibility, education and resources to all citizens of Ireland – this is I imagine quite a different role as would have been envisaged 100 years ago and that itself shows how far we have come in ensuring that our cultural heritage is accessible to all.
In April, An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar T.D. launched a €1.2billion capital investment plan for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. This level of investment is unprecedented and we need, therefore, to ensure we use our assets well, that we can access the wonderful collections of our National Cultural Institutions, that we feel welcome as citizens in these wonderful buildings. Now more than ever we need to make sure that our collections are as diverse as our society.
This plan of actions seeks to create a more diverse and inclusive story of Ireland, so that new voices are collected and shared with the world, and so that everyone will feel welcome in the NLI and I welcome this development.
I am also delighted today to announce a really positive collaboration between the National Library and the Creative Ireland Programme. The Creative Ireland Programme vision is that every person in Ireland will have the opportunity to realise their full creative potential. It also emphasises the importance of participating in creative and cultural activity for a persons’ own wellbeing but also that of the community.
Supported by the Creative Ireland programme, the NLI will undertake a diversity and inclusion pilot project during 2018-2019, which will develop new narratives and materials for the national collections, and new forms of engagement for the NLI. Under the Creative Ireland Programme Scheme 2018/2019, a round-table event in September will be rolled out by the National Library of Ireland and the Creative Ireland Programme, at which the NLI will consult with diverse groups about capturing and sharing more diverse aspects of the story of Ireland.
I hope that this initiative will build a continuing dialogue with groups who may be underrepresented in national narratives or whose culture and heritage is at risk of not being collected and preserved for future generations. The NLI plans to build and strengthen relationships with a rage of different partners who wish to participate in the pilot project and further phases of the NLI’s Diversity and Inclusion programme up to 2021. I am delighted that my Department, through the Creative Ireland Programme, is supporting such a worthwhile initiative and I look forward to seeing the results of this.
Gandhi once said that “No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive” – I echo this when I wish the National Library every success with the roll out of this new and exciting policy.