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Úsáidimid fianáin ionas go bhfaighidh tú an taithí is fearr ar ár láithreán agus comhlíonaimid ár gceanglais Cosanta Sonraí ag an am céanna. Lean ort gan do chuid socruithe a athrú, agus gheobhaidh tú fianáin, nó athraigh do chuid socruithe fianáin ag aon tráth.

Níl an leagan Gaeilge ar fáil go fóill, más maith leat an leagan Béarla a léamh féach thíos.

Milwaukee City Hall Reception - Speech by MoS Ciarán Cannon T.D.

Mayor Barrett, Aldermen, Senator, Distinguished guests

My first visit to the US as Ireland’s Minister for the Diaspora was to this wonderful festival so I’m delighted to be back again 2 years later.

I’m also delighted that this year the festival is showcasing my own home region of Galway.

Galway is gearing up to be European City of Culture in 2020 and this festival is a wonderful opportunity to showcase Galway’s vibrant cultural scene, of which we are so proud, to the audiences of Irish Fest.

It great to see Donegal, Mayo and Clare represented here also. The West coast has come to the Midwest! From the shores of the Atlantic to the shores of Lake Michigan.

Dear Friends, this year 2019, we marked the centenary of the first Dáil Eireann – or Parliament of Ireland.

That Dáil convened in the Mansion House in Dublin and comprised a group of people newly elected to British Parliament in Westminster who met instead in Dublin.

In 1919, remember Ireland was still part of the United Kingdom, so that Dáil Eireann Parliament was without recognition by Britain or the world.

During the meeting, that group asserted Ireland’s nationhood and also Ireland’s openness to the world, describing Ireland as “ A Gateway to the Atlantic” and a point on which Trade routes between East and West converge”

100 years later, Ireland’s Parliament is recognised, we have achieved our independence and we have taken our seat among the nations of the world. No country did more to help us realise that dream than this country.

The United States, as well as helping Ireland achieve its independence, also helped secure peace on our island, with support from successive US administrations leading to the precious peace ushered in by the Good Friday agreement signed in Belfast 21 years ago.

Ireland’s openness to the world, as articulated by my predecessors in Dáil Éireann remains our calling card.

You might be happy to learn that I don’t propose to speak at length about Brexit, but I will say that Britain’s decision to leave the European Union has galvanised our resolve to remain open to the world, and to look outwards instead of inwards.

We helped build the European Union and it has enhanced peace and prosperity in our country. We also remain committed members of the United Nations. We are seeking a seat on the Security Council next year; the top table of the UN system.

In these uncertain and challenging times, being a member of the UN Security Council will not be easy.

But while we are a small country, we are a global island, and we have always believed that peace and prosperity around the world is best served by countries working together.

If we are elected to the Security Council we will bring the experience of our journey as a small island that faced great poverty and deprivation and which succeeded in becoming an outward looking prosperous and independent country.

Our culture is also one of our calling cards. I have no doubt that we will see a lot of shamrocks over the weekend, but our national symbol is not the shamrock, it is the harp.

As a musician myself, I’m very proud that our national symbol is the harp. It is a musical instrument, it is a tool of communication. It is a nod to our great bards and storytellers of the past.

For each of us, and for the island of Ireland as a whole, the Irish Fest is a wonderful promotional opportunity, showcasing all that is great about Irish arts, heritage and culture. We’re delighted that the biggest Irish festival in these United States should have its home here in the city of festivals.

Dear Friends, one of the things that struck me most about my first visit to Milwaukee 2 years ago, was the very tangible strength of our Diaspora.

To see thousands of people wearing green, and to meet so many people who wanted to engage with Irish music and culture was humbling.

The Constitution of Ireland specifically (and I quote from article 2), cherishes its special affinity with people of Irish ancestry living abroad who share its cultural identity and heritage.

The fact that the Government appointed a Senator for the Diaspora -my dear friend, Senator Billy Lawless - bears testament to our commitment to our diaspora. Billy was the first Senator ever to be based outside of Ireland and it is no coincidence that he is based in the Midwest.

Some 8 million people of the 32 million people that claim Irish heritage are based in the 12 states that make up the Midwest region covered by the Consulate.

This Festival is clearly a real focal point for that diaspora.

I know that the Fest also has a tremendously positive impact for the local community and for the local economy as well as maintaining and enhancing the strong and longstanding bonds between Ireland and the US.

In my time as Minister for the Diaspora I have experienced first-hand how blessed we are with strong, dynamic communities right across the United States. But nowhere is Irish culture and heritage more celebrated than here in Milwaukee.

A special thanks to Ed Ward the founder, Linda (Klibowitz) the chair, Mike (Mitchell) the Executive Director, Colleen (Kennedy) the diplomatic liaison, and golf car pilot extraordinaire and all the committee members and the thousands of volunteers for what they do. I salute the Mayor, council and people of Milwaukee for supporting the Fest.

I also thank the Galway Sister Cities committee, particularly Keith and Joan Finnegan, for the work that they have done over the years in keeping the special relationship between Milwaukee and Galway so vibrant.

As a member of the Irish Government and as an artist and a musician myself, I recognise the importance of the opportunity you offer to musicians to showcase our wonderful culture and to interact with musicians from around Ireland and the world and thus evolve as artists and I thank you for that.

Go raibh maith agaibh a chairde. I look forward to seeing you all at the Festival this weekend, thank you.