Speech of An Tánaiste, Eamon Gilmore

August 31, 2011

Tánaiste Gilmore presenting Irish Language Scholarship award to Caitríona Ní Chonchúir

In our 2011 awards ceremony we were honoured to have as our guest speaker An Tánaiste, Eamon Gilmore. With rain threatening (but never arriving!), Tánaiste Gilmore followed the example of his predecessor on the podium, The Honorable Noel Kinsella, and shortened his speech. To view the speech he delivered, click on the frame below;

The text the entirety of his speech is below.


Speech of the Tánaiste, Eamon Gilmore

Dublin, Ireland August 29, 2011
Annual Award Ceremony
Ireland Canada University Foundation


I am delighted to be here today in Ranelagh at the Canadian Embassy for the Annual Awards Ceremony of the Ireland Canada University Foundation. I would like at the outset to thank Ambassador Hearn for hosting the event in this historical residence, the former home of the family of Padraig and Willie Pearce.

I would also wish to acknowledge the presence here today of the Speaker of the Canadian Senate, the Honourable Noel Kinsella as well as Senators Furey, Murray and MacDonald.

I know that the Speaker is very proud of his Irish ancestry and of his time as a student in University College Dublin. I understand that Speaker Kinsella is a strong proponent of the value of international student exchanges and draws on his own experience in Dublin to support that view.

I am delighted that the Speaker and the Senate delegation will have the opportunity of meeting with Minister Ruarí Quinn later in their visit to see how further student exchanges between Ireland and Canada can be encouraged.
Like Speaker Kinsella, I have always been a firm believer in the value of international student exchanges and I want to take this opportunity to publicly express my support to Professor John Kelly and the Ireland Canada Foundation for the valuable work they have undertaken in this regard. Therefore, I was delighted to be able to give concrete and practical expression to my support when I agreed to provide €40,000 towards the operation of the Foundation from the Emigrant Support Fund in my Department.

I understand that the Foundation have hopes that the Canadian Government, through the Minister for Finance, Jim Flaherty, who spent his holidays this year in Ireland, will be in a position to provide matching funds. It is a difficult time to extract money from a Minister for Finance so I wish the Foundation every success in that regard.
I also would like to use this occasion to mention the contribution of the former Irish Honorary Consul in Newfoundland, the late Craig Dobbin, to the establishment of the Foundation. Craig Dobbin was a true friend of Ireland and of course was the first Chair of the Foundation, along with Dr. Patrick Hillery.

The Dobbin research scholarships are not only a wonderful opportunity for the individuals who benefit from them, but are also an excellent way to create and nurture linkages between Irish and Canadian universities. Likewise the Visiting Scholar programme provides great support to those Canadian institutions offering Irish language classes. There are now six Canadian universities with Chairs of Irish or Celtic Studies, and interest in the field has never been stronger.

However, the centre of attention today should be focused on the recipients of today’s Awards; those who will be receiving the scholarships, namely the scholars themselves.

It is an exciting time for you and your families. You are about to embark on a new experience which I have no doubt will greatly enrich you. You will establish new friendships and contacts which will last the rest of your lives. I would like to wish you every success during your time abroad and indeed with your subsequent careers.
Finally I would also like to sincerely thank the Canadian Government for providing an opportunity for so many young Irish people to live and work in Canada. During the difficult economic times in Ireland recently, the Canadian Government greatly expanded its working holiday programme and eased some of its requirements. Many thousands of Irish people benefitted from those changes and are now enjoying a warm welcome in Canada, as so many others have before them. These academic and cultural exchanges ensure that the close ties between Ireland and Canada will only grow stronger in the future.

Go raibh míle maith agaibh.