Speech by Minister Martin at the Brú Ború Cultural Centre on the occasion of the visit of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall – Gov.ie

Speech by Minister Martin at the Brú Ború Cultural Centre on the occasion of the visit of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall – Gov.ie

From Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media 
By: Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media; Catherine Martin
Published on 25 March 2022
Last updated on 26 March 2022
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Thank you, Director General Ó Murchú; Your Royal Highnesses; Cathaoirleach; Deputies and counsellors; distinguished guests; friends.
Is mór an onóir dom labhairt libh thar ceann an Rialtais ag an gcéim dheireanach seo de bhur gcuairt ar Éirinn. Cuirim fáilte ó chroí romhaibh.
It is a great privilege for me to speak on behalf of the government at this final stage of your visit to Ireland.
Despite the incredible richness of your entire programme, you are clearly finishing on a high note – beside one of most beautiful sights in the world, with the music of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann ringing out.
I believe that your visit here this week will have uncovered for many in Great Britain, Ireland and beyond, the treasures of Waterford and Tipperary, our built heritage, our farmers markets, our successful horse racing industry and, of course, our culture. We hope this will lead to increased tourism that supports regional development and facilitates experiences that build mutual understanding and new friendships.
Through this visit, you have led the way in re-establishing vital connections that were so inhibited by the pandemic and for that I thank you on behalf of the government and the Irish people. Moreover, with the barbaric invasion of the Ukraine by Russia, this is a time where collegiality, mutual understanding and strong solidarity in Europe are all more important than ever.
These are dark times, but by standing together, working in unison, defending the values we believe in and condemning the actions that we do not, support for the Ukraine will be bolstered. Their horror is a horror that Europe abhors.
There are so many links across the Irish Sea that connect us. For example, trade in great food flows naturally in both directions, just as tourists do. UK food exports into Ireland were just higher than Irish exports to the UK in 2020. The work that you have done this week in highlighting some of our Origin Green brands and the ever more sustainable approach of our farmers was particularly welcome.
Can I also say, on personal note, as a Green Party minister and a strong advocate of sustainability, I have followed the work you have progressed in this area.
This includes the Sustainable Markets Initiative and Council you created and the support for rural communities and biodiversity. Furthermore, you continue to speak with a strong influential voice about the dangers to the environment around the world.
As Ireland’s Minister for Culture and a musician, I must especially register my appreciation for the spotlight you have shone on Irish traditional music, song and dance. The skills that you honed at the Irish Cultural Centre in Hammersmith during St Patrick’s Day celebrations were evident in our joyful céilí with young and old just now. Traditional music and dance is at the heart of Ireland’s national identity, but is also something that connects people from all backgrounds across our two islands.
Today we remember a wonderful Comhaltas musician, Ashling Murphy. We are very privileged that her family has joined us here today.
I know from speaking with them just now that the outpouring of sympathy that they have received from Great Britain has been a consolation to them in the last few terrible months.
The bonds between our islands are strong – in good times and bad.
Before I hand over to our musicians and performers, I want to recognise what our royal guests have done to advance and strengthen that bond.
The history of the relationship between Ireland and the United Kingdom is as complex as it is and long, and – as you have often recognised – there have been many troubled chapters. I gained a greater understanding of this in recent times through the role I play in steering Ireland’s programme for the decade of centenaries. I have seen at first hand that making a meaningful impact on British Irish relations – and advancing reconciliation – takes time, dedication and consistency.
And today, your Royal Highnesses, I want to commend your efforts in this regard. At Áras an Uachtaráin in 1995, in Mullaghmore in 2015, in Glencree in 2019 and recently at our events to mark the centenary of the Anglo-Irish Treaty at our Embassy in London, your approach has been consistent and has led to positive change.
The last few years have not been without their difficulties in the relationship. Following the UK’s departure from the European Union, our government is working hard to strengthen relations across these islands. It is in all our interests to do this, for the sake of peace, prosperity and future generations.
The last two days have been a very positive moment in British Irish relations. It will have reminded people across our two islands how important Ireland and the UK are to each other and how much progress we have made together in recent years, building on the Good Friday Agreement on 1998 and the glorious State Visits of 2011 and 2014. We already look forward to your next visit. I think there are still a few counties of Ireland that haven’t had the privilege of welcoming you and I am sure are very ready to do so.
I will now hand over to the Brú Ború performers. May you leave Ireland with our beautiful music ringing in your ears.
Go n-éirí an bóthar libh.
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