World Poverty Stone unveiled in Dublin's Docklands
The World Poverty Stone, a commemorative stone to mark the United Nations International Day for the Eradication of World Poverty, was unveiled on Dublin's Custom House Quay today. Jointly funded by the Docklands Authority and Dublin City Council, the stone, designed by artist Stuart McGrath, has been commissioned as a gesture of solidarity for people living in poverty around the world and is sited to the east of the Famine Sculptures in the heart of Dublin's Docklands.
The commemorative ceremony was led by Maurice Manning, President of the Irish Human Rights Commission. Leading dignitaries including Archbishop Diarmuid Martin; Government Chief Whip Pat Carey; Deputy Lord Mayor Cllr. Emer Costello; Prionsias De Rossa MEP as well as other members of the Oireachtas were in attendance along with Paul Maloney, Chief Executive, Docklands Authority and representatives of a number of national voluntary organisations.
Paul Maloney, Chief Executive, Docklands Authority, said, "The World Poverty Stone is a striking and thought provoking symbol of solidarity towards the many people living in poverty around the world. It is particularly fitting that this memorial stone is located at the Famine Memorial on Custom House Quay which is such a striking reminder of the hardships of the past."
Speaking at the Ceremony Cllr Emer Costello, Deputy Lord Mayor, said, "As a Councillor for the North Inner City in Dublin I work on a daily basis with many communities which did not benefit from the excesses of the Celtic Tiger and yet are now suffering the effects of the recent economic downturn. I never fail to be impressed by their resilience, their ability to cope with their situations and hope for the future. After this event, I will be proposing to the Association of City and County
Councils that all other local and municipal authorities throughout the country follow the example of Dublin by commemorating the 17th October event on an annual basis and that they too would erect their own World Poverty Stones at appropriate locations."
Background to the World Poverty Stone Project
On the 17th of October 1987, in response to the call of Joseph Wresinski - founder of the International Movement ATD Fourth World - 100,000 defenders of human rights gathered in Paris to honour the victims of hunger, violence and ignorance, to express their refusal of extreme poverty and to call on people from all walks of life to unite to ensure respect for human rights. A commemorative stone proclaiming this message was inaugurated on this occasion on the Plaza of Human Rights and Liberties - where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948.
Since then, on the 17th of October each year, people from all walks of life, gather throughout the world to express their solidarity and commitment to ensure that everyone's dignity and freedom are respected. On 22nd of December 1992, the General Assembly of the United Nations declared 17th October the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. There are now over 30 replicas of the original stone now located around the world. These sites have become places of honour for people living in poverty in the world, places where people gather to reject the inevitability of poverty and social exclusion and places of friendship and solidarity where people from all backgrounds can gather together. Around the world, annual commemoration take place at the site of the stones to mark the 17th October UN International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.
Although the format of each 17th October replica commemorative stones varies according to its geographic location - each bears the following text from the original stone:
Wherever men and women are condemned to live in poverty, human rights are violated. It is our solemn duty to come together to ensure that these rights are respected.
Since 2000, individuals, community groups and voluntary organisations in Ireland have come together as the 17th October Group to install a commemorative stone near Rowan Gillespie's Famine Memorial on Customs House Quay in Dublin. In 2005, Dublin City Council approved a motion by Cllr. Emer Costello to lay a commemorative stone in this site.
For further information, please contact:
Loretta Lambkin, Docklands Authority, Tel. 818 3300
Christine Lydon, WHPR, Tel 087 234 2409