His Excellency Tim Mawe
Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig ar Ghaeil is cairde Gael I Gcumann Lansdún. Guím gach rath agus séan ar gach éinne atá ag ceiliúradh na Féile i mbliana.
As we face into Saint Patrick’s Day, it is tempting to feel that things are back to normal after the fierce disruption of COVID. And in many ways we are, and part of that normality is the running of the Brisbane Irish Festival, which this year is celebrating 200 years of Irish Queenslanders.
In doing so, I hope that everyone has a great time; that you can connect with your Irish community in Brissy and that you also connect with Ireland itself.
2023 is an important year for Ireland. In a neat symmetry, it marks 100 years since the new Irish state joined the League of Nations; 50 years since we joined the European Union (né EEC) and 25 years of the Good Friday Agreement. That national characteristic of looking outwards and looking to make things better through cooperation and negotiation is the underlying theme for the global celebration of St. Patrick’s Day this year, summarised as “100 years of Ireland in the World.
Australia is one of our oldest partners and closest friends and our relations with Queensland contributes enormously to that. This affinity and mutual affection is built on the massive contribution that Irish people have made to the building of this country and the tremendous opportunities that Australia has offered Ireland over centuries. This is recognised by the Irish government who have agreed that the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mr. Simon Coveney, T.D should visit Australia to join the St. Patrick’s Day events across the country and he will visit Brisbane on 16 March as part of his programme.
While it is always good to look back, we should also look ahead. And coming down the tracks pretty soon is a soccer world cup in Australia, with Irish participation. I’m not claiming bragging rights (maybe just a little) but as far as I can recall, the first women’s international soccer match I attended was as far back as 1986 against Northern Ireland. Played in Belfast, the entire squad, management and supporters were accommodated in a single coach. And having regard to the times that were in it, the security presence in the ground outnumbered the total number of spectators present.
We have come a long way since then.
We now have the prospect of Ireland playing in a World Cup and in front of a global TV audience. Given our connections with Queensland, it is no surprise that the squad will be based in Brisbane and I am sure they will make a very positive impact locally. Let’s support our team and let’s use their presence in Australia to show Australia what the Ireland of 2023 is really like.
Here in Australia, all of Team Ireland will do what we can to support our continued progress and development on whatever pitch we play. I wish to acknowledge my colleagues from Enterprise Ireland; IDA Ireland; Tourism Ireland; our Consulate General in Sydney, and our Honorary Consulate in Perth as well as the embassy team in Canberra for their continued focus on delivery, for their enthusiasm and for their service to the Irish community here in Australia.
I also wish to offer my thanks to the committee of the Festival, whose immense voluntary work ensures this festival happens each year and that Ireland is reflected so positively to everyone in Brisbane.
As we make our way forward through conditions that are not yet fully normal, I am confident that the future for Ireland in Australia remains bright and that we will continue to go from strength to strength together.
Go raibh míle maith agaibh, is nár laga sibh.