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Arts Minister Catherine Martin Sam Boal/
poet laureate

Catherine Martin backs proposal for poet laureate to be appointed to Oireachtas

The proposal to appoint a parliamentary poet laureate was put forward by Fine Gael TD David Stanton.

ARTS MINISTER CATHERINE Martin has signalled her support for a parliamentary poet laureate to be appointed for the Oireachtas.

Speaking in the Dáil earlier this week, Martin said that the appointment of a parliamentary poet laureate was a “wonderful suggestion” and that she hoped it would be given “appropriate consideration”.

Martin made the comments in response to questioning by Fine Gael TD David Stanton, who had previously written to Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl, calling for the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission to examine the appointment of a parliamentary poet laureate.

Stanton said that following a visit last November by the poet laureate to the Canadian Parliament, Louise Bernice Halfe – also known by her Cree name Sky Dancer – he “was struck by the value and importance of poetry”.

“I thought perhaps we should consider having one here as well, so I wrote to the Ceann Comhairle about it,” Stanton told the Dáil.

The Houses of Oireachtas Commission is currently examining the proposal.

The Commission, a cross-party body that runs the Oireachtas, is chaired by the Ceann Comhairle and is made up of TDs, Senators and the clerk of the Dáil, Peter Finnegan.

According to minutes of the Commission’s meeting on 14 December 2022, the body had received the letter from Stanton and sought an “information note” to be prepared by the parliament’s Library and Research Service for a future meeting.

Responding to Stanton, Martin said that while she did not have powers to appoint a poet laureate to the Dáil and Seanad, she hoped it would be considered and said that it was a “wonderful idea”.

“I am aware also of the very positive contribution that access to and participation in the arts can bring in different contexts, including in the workplace, in terms of individual and collective well-being and bringing fresh perspectives,” Martin said.

“Therefore, while it is not a matter for me to decide, I am hopeful and confident on a personal level that the matter will receive appropriate consideration because it is a wonderful suggestion.

“It is a terrific idea, but it is for the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission to consider. I would be confident that it will give it the appropriate consideration of which it is worthy.”

Stanton encouraged TDs to support the proposal, saying that “many parliaments around the world and other institutions recognise poetry, poets in residence and poet laureates”.

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