A bill seeking to designate 21 January as Declaration of Independence Day passed committee stage in the Seanad this evening.

The bill proposes formally recognising 21 January as "Declaration of Independence Day" as it was on this date in 1919 that the inaugural meeting of the first Dáil took place in the Round Room at Dublin's Mansion House.

The Government supported the bill this evening without tabling any amendments.

Fianna Fáil Senator Keith Swanick, who has spearheaded the campaign to have the day more formally recognised, said: "It is now time to commemorate the declaration of independence in the First Dáil on January 21, 1919."

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan said that the centenary would be one of the key historic events to be marked by the State in 2019.

The event will be marked by the State and the Houses of the Oireachtas.

There was cross-party support for the bill when it was debated at second stage last July. Minister Madigan said she would not be moving any amendments at committee stage.

Senator Swanick said the bill seeks to declare 21 January as Independence Day and it will be celebrated annually on that day, regardless of what day it falls.

He stressed that there needs to be a consistent date in the calendar to give the events the recognition they deserve.

More than 4,000 primary and secondary schools participated in a successful Proclamation Day to commemorate Easter 1916 and he said similar events should be held to commemorate the historic meeting of the first Dáil.

He said there is no plan to legislate for this day to become a public holiday.

Fine Gael Senator Maura Hopkins said that it is fitting that we recognise 21 January as Declaration of Independence Day.

She said that: "It is also positive that the public holiday would not have an economic impact from its designation, in terms of the economic impact being minimal, but will still allow us as a country to commemorate the sitting of first Dáil properly."

Sinn Féin’s Niall Ó Donghaile said his party is supporting the bill as it is "not just an act of remembrance and celebration but I would contest it can also act as a reminder of the work, promise and vision yet to be fulfilled".

Minister Madigan noted, that while the Government is not supporting the bill, it is important to not that there are "a number of significant annual events in the calendar, including the Easter Sunday commemoration at the GPO, which takes place in remembrance of those who gave their lives in the cause of Irish freedom in 1916".

"There is also the commemoration of the Easter Rising at Arbour Hill on the first Wednesday between 3-12 May.

"There is also the July National Day of Commemoration in remembrance of all Irish men and Irish women who died in past wars and on service with the United Nations."

After the bill passed committee stage, Senator Swanick said: "I am humbled that the bill has now passed another significant legislative milestone towards its enactment."

The bill will now move to report stage next Tuesday.