Over 500 people will join President Michael D. Higgins this afternoon at the Dublin Royal Convention Centre for the annual Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration. The ceremony is organised by Holocaust Education Ireland (HEI) in association with the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. January 27 is designated by the United Nations General Assembly as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marking the liberation of Auschwitz in January 1945.

“The Holocaust did not begin with gas chambers”, says Lynn Jackson, HEI Founding Trustee. “It began with taunting, bullying, name-calling, spitting, nasty images, physically attacking Jews, and uttering hate speech.”

HEI chairperson, Professor Tom O’Dowd says “With few Holocaust survivors left to carry the burden of memory, the lessons of history grow dangerously dim. It becomes even more important to educate future generations. We urge young people in our midst to speak out against the scourge of disinformation, prejudice and hatred so that they might learn lessons from the past that are relevant to their lives today.”

The commemoration ceremony honours the memory of all of the people who perished in the Holocaust including six million innocent Jewish men, women and children. It also honours millions of other victims, who were persecuted and murdered by the Nazis because of their ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, political affiliations, or religious beliefs. The ceremony includes readings, survivors’ recollections, candle-lighting, and music.

President Michael D. Higgins is delivering the keynote address at the ceremony. He will be joined by, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Roderic O’Gorman, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Paschal Donohoe, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, government officials, representatives of victim groups, ambassadors, religious leaders, and people from all walks of Irish life.

Two Holocaust survivors who settled in Ireland – Suzi Diamond and Tomi Reichental – will take part alongside second and third generations survivors.

“I am mindful that time is passing too quickly for my contemporaries and for me,” says Suzi Diamond. “For young people today, it is difficult to understand the enormity of what we experienced 80 years ago.  Six million people were murdered because of their faith, more than the population of Ireland! Therefore, I urge the people of Ireland speak out about hate speech, about bullying and about Holocaust denial. I appeal to you to tell our stories to ensure the memory of the Holocaust is kept alive.”

Media enquires and interview requests to connell@iniscommunications.com