St. Patrick's Day Reception Address
Ambassador Mac Coscair's full address at the Embassy's St Patrick's Day Reception.
Saint Patrick's Day Reception, Corinthia Palace Attard, 17 March 2016
Address by Ambassador Mac Coscair.
Your Excellency, Mr Preca, Honorable Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mrs Vella, President Emeritus, Excellencies, Honorable Ministers, Distinguished Guests.
Ann and I welcome you and thank you for joining us to celebrate our National Day, St Patrick's Day.
This is our second occasion celebrating Saint Patrick's Day with our Maltese friends and before all else I want to thank your Excellency and your fellow citizens for the kindness and hospitality shown to us over the past year. I also want to take the opportunity to express my appreciation of my colleagues at the Embassy, Marthese Abela and Michael Calleja, whose professionalism and comradeship, embodies what is best in Malta and Ireland.
For countries such as Ireland and Malta on the periphery of Europe our vocation must be the international. Our histories and perspectives as island peoples equip us to play a distinct and unique role on the international stage. Malta's successful hosting of the Valletta Summit and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting last year clearly demonstrates this point.
In the course of her address at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth said that:
"a nation's size is no measure of the moral strength of its people or its willingness to play a full part in the global agenda"
This observation, addressed to Malta,could be equally applied to Ireland.
This year is particularly significant for Ireland as it is the 100th Anniversary of the Easter Rising and the Proclamation of the Irish Republic.
Earlier this week I had the honour of opening an exhibition on the Easter Rising which the National Library of Malta is graciously hosting. Professor Fenech and Dr Corby of the University of Malta provided interesting perspectives, both literary and historical, on this seminal event in Irish history.
The 1916 Easter Rising was like its predecessors, a military failure. Within two weeks the Rising was quelled and the leaders executed.
However, the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, which was first read out by Pádraig Pearse on the steps of the General Post Office in Dublin just after noon on Monday 24th April 1916, endured.
As the Maltese proverb puts it:
M'hemmx warda bla xewk.
This Proclamation of 490 words or so envisaged a new Ireland as an independent national democracy based on egalitarian principles; an Ireland which, in the words of the Proclamation:
"guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens..."
One hundred years on, we continue to work at achieving a Republic worthy of those aspirations.
Last year my fellow citizens blazed a trail when they became the first sovereign people to choose marriage equality by popular vote. They determined that Ireland should be characterised by solidarity and inclusiveness. They reaffirmed the importance of marriage and family for our society and made it a more equal country for all Irish women and men.
Turning to relations between Ireland and Malta, these continue to develop to the benefit of both countries and more importantly to the benefit of those most in need. In this regard I want to mention the work of the men and women of Irish Naval Service during the humanitarian search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean last year. In the course of 2015 three vessels of the Irish Naval Service rescued 8,631 men, women and children from the sea.
This was the first major humanitarian mission undertaken by the Irish Naval Service in the history of our state and it would not have been as successful were it not for the support of the Italian Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre and the Armed Forces of Malta.
Cooperation between our defence forces in the field of training continues and earlier this year I was happy to see that six Maltese officers graduated with the 91st Cadet Class in the Curragh in Ireland including Lieutenant Iona Muscat who was awarded the Trophy for Best International Student.
In the field of Justice, the Irish Government is privileged to support a project by the International Organization FOR Migration to "Improve the Quality of Prosecution and Protection of Victims of Trafficking through the Justice System in the Republic of Malta". Human trafficking is not only a serious crime but a gross violation of human rights and Ireland's support for this project is in keeping with our foreign policy and indeed with the very principles set out in our Proclamation of so many years ago.
There are many examples of fruitful cooperation in the commercial, social and economic spheres, too many to enumerate. It is no surprise, therefore, that in 2015, Ireland and Malt were the fastest growing economics in the European Union.
To conclude, it is with great pleasure that I convey the best wishes of our President Michael D. Higgins to you on this most International of National Days and I propose a toast to your very good health and that of Mr Preca and the health and prosperity of the Maltese people.