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Ceremony at Dublin Castle marks three important EU milestones for Ireland

31.12.2012, 12:05 GMT


2013 to bring seventh Irish EU Presidency, 40th anniversary of EU membership and EU Year of Citizens.

This morning at a ceremony at Dublin Castle, the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister of State for European Affairs marked the start of a significant year for Ireland’s membership of the European Union. 2013 is to bring a celebration of 40 years since Ireland’s EU accession, the start of Ireland’s seventh Presidency of the Council of the EU (January-June) and the European Year of Citizens.

In these four decades, our relationship with Europe and the world has been transformed for the better.

The ceremony, also attended by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, government ministers, members of the diplomatic corps and other guests, included the release of 40 balloons by schoolchildren engaged in the EU-focused Blue Star programme for primary schools. Both the Irish and EU anthems were played by the Defence Forces Band, while An Irish Blessing was performed by the award-winning Methodist College Choir, Belfast. 

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Speaking about Ireland’s 40 years of membership of the EU, the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny T.D., noted many transformations over those years and spoke of the EU’s current challenges:

In these four decades, our relationship with Europe and the world has been transformed for the better.

Today, Europe is working hard to move beyond the recent economic crisis which has affected so many citizens’ and families’ lives.

We know all too well here in Ireland the huge sacrifices the crisis has meant. The people of Europe and Ireland need to know there is progress. That there is a next step to recovery.

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore T.D., said of the New Year and Ireland’s EU Presidency:

This Government will work hard to restore financial stability right across the continent, so as to build the conditions for job-creating growth.

As we face into a new year, I am confident that we can also look forward to a new phase of recovery.

2013 will be about recovery, both for Ireland and for Europe. As we become the first country in the euro zone to exit an EU/IMF programme, Ireland can – and will – be a success story for Europe again.

Speaking about the European Year of Citizens, to be launched in Dublin in January, Lucinda Creighton T.D., Minister of State for European Affairs, spoke of the Year’s ambitions in terms of awareness and debate around the rights EU citizens enjoy:

This year I would like to encourage a discussion about these rights and what they mean for Ireland, and, not least, about what the European Union means to us.

In the coming weeks we will be asking individuals, communities and representatives of civil society to come forward with their ideas for this debate about their place in Europe’s future.

We will also organise a series of meetings around Ireland where we will listen carefully to what people have to say.

Taoiseach's speech, 31 December 2012

Tánaiste's speech, 31 December 2012

Minister Creighton's speech, 31 December 2012

If you require more information about this event please contact the Presidency Communications Team at press@eu2013.ie

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