Ministers Flanagan and Murphy on Europe Day 2017
Press release09 May 2017
As Irish schoolchildren lead the EU “handshake across Europe” on Europe Day, Ministers Flanagan and Murphy say it’s a moment to value the EU and think of the kind of Europe we want in the future
For the fifth year in a row….Irish primary school pupils lead the ‘Handshake for Europe’
Initiated in 2013 by Irish schools involved in the Blue Star Programme, primary school children throughout Ireland once again ‘shook hands across Europe’ to mark Europe Day today. Nearly 165 schools with more than 12,500 pupils in communities in every county of Ireland participated in their own events. As representatives of these schools, Askeaton National School from County Limerick and Scoil Realt na Mara from County Clare were at Iveagh House in Dublin today, for an event with Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan TD, and the Minister of State for European Affairs, Dara Murphy TD, hosted by European Movement Ireland.
The handshake chain celebrates Europe and the schools’ participation in the Blue Star Programme, and also symbolises both the solidarity and diversity of EU citizens. The two schools have participated in the Programme for five years and Minister Flanagan presented each school with special award to mark this achievement.
Minister Flanagan said: “It is vital that young people in Ireland understand the history of the European Union in terms of its origins, its evolution and the whole range of rights and freedoms it has bestowed on its citizens. The peace delivered by the European project cannot be taken for granted and that it why we must remember its origins following two catastrophic World Wars that ravaged the continent of Europe. I believe there is a bright future ahead for the European Union and I believe young people in Ireland have a bright future to look forward to, largely because of our membership of the EU.”
Minister of State for European Affairs Dara Murphy TD also met the children, having previously addressed an event marking Europe Day at the European Parliament office in Dublin, with European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Affairs Phil Hogan and Deirdre Clune MEP in attendance.
MoS Murphy stated: “Today, it’s appropriate that we focus on the positive, and there is no shortage of positives to highlight. The EU has been the backdrop against which Ireland has matured as an independent nation; the EU has with generous assistance helped develop our human resources, our infrastructure; our environment, our economy. EU membership has encouraged us to travel within Europe and explore our cultural inheritance; to send our young people to be educated in Europe; to trade, invest and develop businesses. It has been an enriching experience for all – a real win-win.
“The shock of the UK Brexit vote has focused our attention more closely on the Future of Europe and what kind of a Union we want. Our belief is that we should – where possible – try to move ahead together as 27, in unity. In the current climate it behoves us to think in an inclusive way rather than independently ploughing our own furrow. That said, the Treaties already make provision for variable geometry – the Single Currency being the prime example – and we strongly support this.”
09 May 2017