Higgins says reflecting and celebrating the centenary of the 1918 general election is appropriate and timely
PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins has said it is appropriate and timely that Ireland reflects and celebrates the centenary of the 1918 general election.
Mr Higgins described the election, which gave women the right to vote for the first time, as of "fundamental importance" in the country's history.
The president made the comments 100 years to the day since the election, which also gave women the right to stand in elections for the first time.
The results led to the first Dail parliament being established in January 1919 and Irish independence.
Mr Higgins said the election represented all the political tendencies of the day and had a particular importance for the suffragette movement.
Women over the age of 30 and all men over the age of 21 were given the vote.
Previously all women and most working class men had been excluded from voting.
Mr Higgins said the results of the election represented the greatest single shift in parliamentary representation and also foreshadowed divisions that would deepen on the island.
"The poignancy of the 1918 election was the failure to respect its mandate which would result in the War of Independence and the tragic Civil War," he said.
He concluded: "It is appropriate and timely that we reflect on and celebrate this milestone in Irish history and the rare alliances that made its promise visible and celebrate those who seized and placed their hopes in democracy."
A number of events to commemorate the centenary took place in Dublin on Friday.
At Leinster House, the seat of Irish parliament, Sinn Fein recreated an iconic photo from the election to mark the occasion.
A horse and replica carriage emblazoned with election posters was brought to the gates of the building.
Culture minister Josepha Madigan is marking the anniversary by opening a pop-up museum at Dublin Castle entitled Women in Politics and Public Life, from 1918 to 2018, which explores 100 years of women's participation in politics and public life.
Earlier this year, the Votail 100 programme was established by parliament to mark the centenary.