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  • Frances Fitzgerald

This is Europe – Debate with the Taoiseach of Ireland, Micheál Martin

Updated: Apr 17, 2023

This is Europe – Debate with the Taoiseach of Ireland, Micheál Martin

Speech to Plenary

Wednesday 8th June 2022

President Metsola, Colleagues, distinguished guests;

Taoiseach, thank you for so passionately outlining the importance of the EU to Ireland – past, present and future.

As we both know, membership of the European Union has been nothing short of life-changing for the people of Ireland over the last 50 years.

That historic vote in May 1972 to join the European Communities changed the economic and social trajectory of the Irish state for the better and as an Irish woman, I can unequivocally vouch for this positive change.

The five decades since have witnessed Ireland’s emergence as a modern, open economy and society – shaped by close reciprocal cooperation with our European partners.

We uphold and perpetuate the European values of human rights, democracy, freedom of the press and the rule of law.

The European Union is a beacon, a model and an instrument for obtaining peace.

Fittingly last night we paid tribute to a committed European, a peace-maker and a former member of this Parliament, John Hume.

We remember his outstanding work for peace and his resolute determined stance against the use of violence in Ireland.

He believed in and personified this institution, describing ‘the EU as the most successful peace project in history’ - he believed in extensive dialogue to bring about peace.

That approach is a hallmark of the EU’s efforts to resolve outstanding concerns within the Protocol on Northern Ireland. The European way is to negotiate in good faith, and we expect the same in return from the UK, not bad faith.

I pay tribute to the efforts of Commissioner Maros Sefcovic, and before him, Michel Barnier, for their efforts to resolve these issues – they have shown endless patience and resolve.

And I want to take this opportunity to thank my fellow Parliamentarians - for their understanding of the consequences of Brexit and for their unwavering support for Ireland as a small member state.

The brutal Russian aggression and invasion of Ukraine illustrate the scale of the threat to multilateralism, human decency and the international rule of law.

All member states have a role to play when it comes to the future of defence and security policy – we must support one another.

I believe that the future of Ukraine and other eastern partners is within the EU but is it good enough to say that your future lies in Europe and that could be a generation away?

Taoiseach, as we look forward to the next 50 years and continue this unique journey, we look at Ireland’s new role within the EU - as an older member state and a net contributor.

The issues facing Ireland today are mirrored across Europe.

Ireland’s challenges are Europe’s challenges and Europe’s opportunities are Ireland’s opportunities.

Ireland and the EU must continue to defend democracy and the people of Ukraine.

Ireland and the EU must respond comprehensively to the to the current cost of living and energy crises, just as we worked together to respond throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ireland and the EU must not simply respond to these crises but proactively lead on issues for the next generation - the future of Europe - the green and digital transitions, gender equality, and care - these are the areas where greater action is needed.

Taoiseach, I have no doubt that Ireland will continue to build on our European values of democracy, human rights, the rule of law.

We are creating the future by the decisions made here today and through our engagement with citizens.

Ireland’s future is without doubt at the heart of Europe

Éirinn go Brách and Long live Europe.

Go raibh maith agat.



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