Decade of Centenaries – Department of Justice 2022 Programme

The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, has today launched the justice sector programme of commemorative events for 2022-2024 as part of the Decade of Centenaries Programme.

The Minister said:

“Over the past decade, we have collectively reflected on many of the formative events in the history of our State as part of the Decade of Centenaries. The period which we are now considering saw the foundation of the State and the establishment, or, in some cases, the handing over of many of the institutions and administrative pillars which have served us since then.

Central to this was the justice sector. Indeed, 1922 was a particularly significant year. It saw the foundation of our national police service, An Garda Síochána. It was also, of course, a year which tragically saw the advent of the Civil War and this was reflected in the occupation of the Four Courts, and with it the destruction of the Public Records Office.

Both 1922 and the years that followed saw many developments and transitions, including the end to the revolutionary Dáil Courts regime and the establishment of the Courts system of the new State. These were tumultuous years as the new State came into being. Both the Department of Justice, its forerunner, the Department of Home Affairs, and the various other parts of the justice sector were central to that time and that work.

I hope that the Decade of Centenaries Justice Sector Programme 2022-24 will capture some of the importance of this work, and help bring some new insights and understanding to those years. This must be an open and honest discussion, and throughout we will attempt to consider all aspects of our history – those that are well known, and those which may not have received enough discussion in the past.

I would encourage all those with an interest in these events to join us in that spirit and participate.”

An Garda Síochána and the Courts Service are leading comprehensive programmes of events over the course of this year to mark the key events of the establishment of An Garda Síochána, the occupation of the Four Courts and the impact which this had on the operation of the Courts at the time, and the development and enactment of the Constitution of the Irish Free State. Details of these events are available in the programme.

A justice sector symposium, titled Justice in Ireland 1822-2022, will take place in the Printworks of Dublin Castle in partnership with an academic institution on 22 November. Falling on the 200th anniversary of the establishment of the County Constabulary and the 100th anniversary of the establishment of An Garda Síochána, the symposium will provide an opportunity for a consideration by academics and practitioners of the development of both policing and justice institutions more broadly over that time, including the evolution of the prison and probation services. Further details will be announced over the coming weeks.

The Decade of Centenaries Programme provides a critical opportunity to focus on the development of access to historical records and primary sources from this key period. To this end, the Department intends to commence a number of projects to provide access to records from the early decades of the State. This will include the cataloguing of early 20th century departmental files for release to the National Archives and the commissioning of a written history of the first fifty years of the Department.

In addition to those being announced today, the programme of events and initiatives will continue to develop over the life of the programme. Additions will be announced by the Department or relevant agency via their traditional and online channels.

The Minister concluded:

“I would like to thank Dr Maurice Manning, Chair of the Expert Advisory Group on Centenary Commemorations and the Group, for the guidance in developing this programme of events and initiatives. I also want to thank the justice sector agencies for engaging with my Department to produce a diverse range of sectoral commemorations and to congratulate An Garda Síochána and the Courts Service on their commemorative programmes for this year. I would encourage members of the public to participate in the justice sector commemorations over the coming years and hope that they will find the programme informative and enjoyable in equal measure.”

The programme can accessed be from the Department of Justice website at

The Decade of Centenaries Programme is an ongoing programme of commemoration of the period from 1912 to 1923. The justice sector commemorations programme is part of the recently published, cross-government Decade of Centenaries 2022 Programme co-ordinated by Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.

The programme of commemorative events and initiatives for the justice sector will run until 2024 to mark the centenaries of the Courts of Justice Act 1924 (which established a new system of Courts for the Irish Free State) and the Ministers and Secretaries Act 1924 (which renamed the Department of Home Affairs as the Department of Justice).

A number of events have already taken place online over recent months as part of this phase of commemorative initiatives by the Department and can be viewed online at the following links:

o   Webinar: ‘Forbidden Love: Same-sex relationships in early 20th century Ireland’ (24 November 2021)

o   Webinar: ‘Women in the justice sector: 100 years of impact’ (25 November 2021)

o   Department video: The Ministries of Home Affairs and Justice in Ireland, 1919-1924 (19 January 2022)

o   Bilingual address by former Chief Justice Frank Clarke on ‘The administration of justice in Ireland during the past century’ (Department of Justice Irish Language Week 2022)

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