As our National Day, St Patrick’s Day offers Irish people a chance to pause and reflect on the year that has gone by and look forward towards the opportunities and challenges of the coming year, as well as celebrate our many achievements.
2022 was a challenging year for all of our European family, as we saw the continued impact of Russian’s horrific war against Ukraine. Romania and the Republic of Moldova have been at the forefront of this response, and Irish people have greatly admired the solidarity and practical compassion being shown to Ukrainian refugees who arrive here. Ireland will continue to play its part in supporting the people of Ukraine in their on-going struggle for freedom. Almost 77,000 Ukrainian refugees have come to Ireland to seek shelter and safety. We will continue to support Ukraine through initiatives such as the European Peace Facility and by supporting the work of the International Criminal Court to bring the perpetrators of this horrific conflict to justice.
In 2023, Ireland marks 100 years since the conclusion of the Irish Civil War, an event which marked the early days of our independence with tragedy. It is also 25 years since the Good Friday Agreement was signed, bringing an end to the 30 year long conflict in Northern Ireland. The lessons of these times have shaped. These tragic events have shaped our efforts to foster peace and reconciliation around the world.
In 2023, Ireland is also celebrating 50 years of EU membership. Joining the EU was transformative for Ireland, and we have benefitted hugely from being part of this vital family of nations. Irish people are amongst the most enthusiastically pro-European, precisely because we recognise the benefits of working together for the common good, and giving small states an equal voice at the table. For Ireland European values such as, freedom, democracy, equality, human rights and the rule of law are central to our national identity and our society is much the richer for it. We are strongly supportive of the European aspirations of Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, and we will continue to offer practical support and action to help them on their journey towards membership. We are also hugely grateful for the continued support of our EU partners to resolve the complex issues arising from Brexit, and we look forward to moving forward in our close relationship with the UK through the workings of the Windsor Framework.
During the St Patricks’ Festivities, I will be linking in with Irish people and business who have made this beautiful country their home and are playing an active role in Romanian life. Ireland and Romania share a long history of emigration, and we both have significant diasporas abroad. Almost 100,000 Romanians have made Ireland their home, and I want to mark their enormous contribution that they make to everyday life in Ireland. Irish companies are increasingly drawn to the excellent investment and growth opportunities in the Romanian market, ably supported by the Romania Ireland Business Association (RIBA). It is a huge privilege for me and my colleagues at the Embassy to work and live in this beautiful country.
Happy St Patrick’s Day everyone. Lá Fhéile Pádraig sona daoibh go léir.