Weekly message from the TaoiseachPosted May 27th, 2011
A sense of normality has descended on Government Buildings now that the last of our esteemed visitors has departed and day to day duties have taken prominence once again.
Now that the flurry of visits is over, we can reflect on what have been a really fantastic couple of weeks for Ireland, both in terms of the priceless exposure of our country to a massive international media audience and in terms of the lifting of the nation’s spirits.
On Monday, President Obama and the First Lady arrived in Ireland for what turned out to be a whirlwind 12 hour visit, encompassing a meeting with President McAleese, another with myself, a helicopter trip to Moneygall and an open air address in Dublin City Centre. I met with President Obama in Farmleigh, where we discussed various topics including the economic outlook in a global sense, the issue of undocumented Irish in America and the President’s continuing work on that issue as well as the latest on the Northern Ireland Assembly. In addition, I reiterated to him the fact that there will be no change under my leadership to either the policy relating to American aircraft serving the U.N. resolutions passing through Shannon or to our corporation tax rate. I also thanked him sincerely for taking the time to visit us and emphasised to him the importance of the visit to the Irish people.
This heartfelt appreciation became apparent to the President himself later in the day when a crowd of over 50,000 people gathered in College Green to hear him speak. I was surprised at some commentary following my introductory speech and my obvious reference to President Obama’s most famous words from 2008. I thought there no better way to welcome this outstanding orator to Ireland than to pay tribute to his words in this way. In fact, that very speech hangs on the wall of my office! I did the same in the White House on 17 March when I referred to the book “The Audacity of Hope”!
The President’s own speech centered on the enduring strength of the Irish American relationship over the years. He also praised Ireland for the continued success of the Peace Process as well as the wonderfully dignified reception we gave Queen Elizabeth last week.
I would like to commend the Irish people, particularly those living and working in Dublin city centre, for their patience over the past couple of weeks. No doubt the various traffic restrictions inconvenienced many but the good grace with which they were accepted helped the visits run very smoothly indeed. We can all be justifiably proud of the contribution we made to this end. The army, the Gardaí, the public service and our people all played a part in what was a proud day for Ireland and the Irish.
I announced my own eleven Seanad nominations last Friday night. These nominations include a wide range of figures from various spheres and I am very confident that each of them will bring with them a uniquely valuable perspective to the 24th Seanad which met for the first time on Wednesday. It will, ultimately be down to the people as to whether they wish to retain the upper house in the future and I intend to hold a referendum to decide its fate in 2012.
On Tuesday night, I was in the Aviva Stadium to see the Republic of Ireland overcome Northern Ireland by a very convincing five goals to nil, which was our biggest ever winning margin over our closest neighbour. It seems that the Carling Nations Cup may now be well within our grasp.
On Wednesday, I visited the outstanding, world class Hewlitt Packard complex in Leixlip in recognition of the company’s 40th anniversary in Ireland. I then travelled to Colourtrend in Celbridge where I launched their new “Ceramic Matt” paint. Colourtrend is a paint supplier with four branches in Ireland and another just opened in Bath, England. This particular business operates from an old famine workhouse and it is genuinely heartening to see real positivity and success emerge from what was once a place of such desolation.
TV 3’s “Every Job Counts” concluded on Wednesday night and I was in the studio to announce “Maxi Zoo” pet supply store as the winner. TV3 had called on businesses to submit their plans for job creation, the prize being an advertising and promotional package worth €50,000. Initiatives such as this really highlight the wealth of innovation we have here in this country and are to be warmly welcomed.
On Thursday, I attended the Institute for British Irish Studies Annual Conference in UCD and today I will attend the Bord Bia Pathways for Growth Food and Drink Summit in the Smurfit Business School. The aim of the summit is to highlight the emerging role played by the Irish food and drink industry today.
This morning, I also participated in celebrations for Aer Lingus and their 75th birthday by taking a short flight in the “lolar”, a biplane from 1936 made of canvass and wood! Most exhilarating indeed!
Tomorrow, I will drop in on the Young Fine Gael North West Regional Council AGM in Westport before I don my dinner jacket for the 11th World meeting of Mayo Associations in Hotel Westport. Over 100 delegates from Mayo Associations around the world will come together to brainstorm ideas relating to Ireland’s wind and wave energy and its potential role in our economic recovery, a topic which I anticipate will come increasingly to the fore in years to come.
Enda Kenny TD