Factsheet on the Roma Genocide in Ireland
Recognition, official texts
The Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration is firmly established in the national calendar and takes place in Dublin every year on the Sunday nearest to 27 January, the date of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The Memorial Day was first officially observed in January 2003. The event cherishes the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust and recalls the millions of innocent Jewish men, women and children and others, who were persecuted and murdered by the Nazis because of their ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, political affiliations or their religious beliefs. Roma victims are included in “others”, but not clearly mentioned. The focus is on the Jewish victims of the Nazi era.
Data (camps locations, Remembrance places, measures etc.)
There is no memorial place for the victims of the Roma Genocide. There is a memorial dedicated to Jews in Listowel since 1995.
Specialised institution, commission, research centre etc., dealing with this issue
The Holocaust Education Trust Ireland is the specialised institution charged with collecting data and producing materials on the Holocaust for pedagogical purposes. It aims at teaching about the Holocaust and its consequences. However, it does not deal specifically with the Roma Genocide.
Official initiatives (campaigns, actions, projects, commemoration days, museums)
Drawing on the assistance of the Holocaust Educational Trust, the Government has marked Holocaust Memorial Day as the Sunday nearest to 27 January each year since 2003. Local events commemorating the Holocaust had, however, been held before – for example, the unveiling of the Holocaust Memorial in Listowel in 1995. In addition, the Jewish community holds a memorial service on Yom Hashoah every year.
The national Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration takes place at the Mansion House in Dublin (the official residence of the city’s Lord Mayor). It is designed to cherish the memory of all of the victims of the Nazi Holocaust. An integral part of the commemoration is a candle-lighting ceremony, at which six candles are lit for the six million Jews who perished, as well as candles for all of the other victims. Readings are given by survivors and prominent people in Irish society. There are appropriate musical and choral interludes. A minute’s silence is observed
At the national Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration, a keynote address is given by the Prime Minister or another senior minister. Members of Parliament and the Senate, heads of government departments and officials from government departments attend the event. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform gives the keynote address. The Lord Mayor of Dublin participates actively. The event has been attended in past years by the President of Ireland.
The thrust of the commemoration programme is to serve as a constant reminder of the dangers of racism and to provide lessons from the past that are relevant today. The inclusion of all victim groups is fundamental to the commemoration, and the importance of education about anti-Semitism and all forms of intolerance is highlighted.
In addition to the participation of senior government officials, representatives from across the spectrum of Irish civic society are invited to attend, including educators.
It is to be noticed that Roma are included in "other victims" but are not clearly designated.
Inclusion of the topic in the school curriculum
The national education curriculum does not specifically include teaching on the Holocaust or the Roma Genocide. The Irish Department of Education and Skills does not produce or approve textbooks, nor does it specifically prescribe the content of citizenship, history or other classes. Schools are encouraged and provided with the scope to examine issues such as the Holocaust. Students are also able to learn about the Holocaust in other subject areas, including citizenship education and historical studies.
Inclusion of the topic in the school textbooks
Training of teachers and education professionals
The HETI offers a teacher training programme. Still it does not specifically deal with the Roma Genocide.
Particular activities undertaken at the level of education institutions
The Crocus project is an Irish initiative whereby HETI provides yellow Crocus bulbs for school pupils aged 11 years and older to plant in memory of the 1.5 million Jewish children who perished in the Holocaust and thousands of other children who were victims of Nazi atrocities. In this project, Roma victims are evoked but the focus remains on the Jewish Holocaust. Since its inception in 2005, participation in the project has grown from 6,000 students in Ireland to more than 45,000 students in Ireland and in several other OSCE participating States.
On 10th April 2015, the Irish Film Institute screened “The Forgotten Genocide”, documentary following the fate of six Roma children in the 1940s. This event was supported by the French Embassy, the Holocaust Education Trust Ireland, Institut Français, Alliance Française and the Memorial de la Shoah in Paris. The film’s two directors Idit Bloch and Henriette Asseo attended the screening and discussed with the public.
Holocaust Educational Trust of Ireland (ed.). The Crocus Project. A Guide for Teachers. [in English and Irish]
Szita, S. (2008). The Roma people during the Second World War (1939-1945): school reader about coexistence and persecution. Budapest: Velcsov. [Original in Hungarian]
HETI - Teacher education (educational materials and guidelines)