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Minister Creighton briefs Northern Ireland Assembly on Presidency progress

European Union, Press Releases, Northern Ireland, 2013
Minister Creighton briefs Northern Ireland Assembly on Presidency progress and takes part in Citizens’ Dialogue

The Minister for European Affairs, Lucinda Creighton T.D., visited the Northern Ireland Assembly today to discuss the priorities and progress of Ireland’s Presidency of the European Union and to participate in a citizen’s dialogue with young people on the future of the EU.

Speaking this morning at the Committee of the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister in Stormount the Minister stressed the North-South dimension of the Presidency:

“We have so many shared interests with Northern Ireland across the EU agenda and we are determined that our Presidency will have a genuine North/South dimension.  We are delighted that colleagues from Northern Ireland have taken part in the Informal Meetings of EU Ministers that we have held in Dublin, as well as at many other Presidency meetings and conferences.

Minister Creighton stressed the urgent need to tackle the blight of youth unemployment:

“As Presidency, Ireland has focused on the needs of Europe’s young people. Unacceptably high youth unemployment is one of the greatest blights on our continent.  We know this to our cost: our youth unemployment rates of 30% in Ireland and 20% here in Northern Ireland threaten the well-being of a generation and the social fabric of the entire EU. We have a responsibility to act now to ensure that Europe’s young people can achieve their full potential. If we do not, if we fail them, the consequences for our communities and societies will be dire. Any sustainable economic recovery must have our young people as its driving force.”

Minister Creighton later took part in a citizen’s dialogue with young people and community groups’ representatives, who took the opportunity to share their views on the EU’s future and Ireland’s place within it.  Speaking at the event the Minister said:

“We believe that active engagement between civil society, NGOs and Government is necessary for a healthy and functioning democracy, at local, national and European level. In drafting our Presidency programme we sought to place people at the centre of everything we are doing.  So we are delighted that the European Year of Citizens coincides with our Presidency. The EU must count every year as the year of the citizen.”