Today, our relationship goes far beyond two countries that are simply neighbours. “We are firm friends and equal partners”, as my grandmother put it.The Prince of Wales
Tánaiste, a dhaoine uaisle,
Catherine and I are delighted to be here at the Museum of Literature Ireland, and are hugely grateful to the Tánaiste for the very generous welcome.
It goes without saying that the relationship between the UK and Ireland is of vital importance, and that is why I am so pleased that Catherine and I are undertaking our first official visit here.
Growing up, I remember seeing the Troubles that took place, which affected so many people across the UK and Ireland.
This explains why one of the truly profound moments for Catherine and me took place yesterday at the Garden of Remembrance. It was a reminder of the complexity of our shared history, and that as my grandmother said during her visit in 2011, “Our islands have experienced more than their fair share of heartache and turbulence”.
But it was also a reminder about how far we have come. It is right that we continue to remember those who suffered as a consequence of our troubled past. And whilst many wrongs have been done, it is important that we are not bound by these.
Today, our relationship goes far beyond two countries that are simply neighbours. “We are firm friends and equal partners”, as my grandmother put it. The links between our people, businesses and our culture are inextricable, and we should all be proud to see how strong those bonds are.
As we look ahead to some changes in our relationship, we must never forget how far we have come together in recent decades in transforming the relationships across our two islands.
Many people deserve our deepest gratitude for their hard work, imagination and, above all, courage in bringing about these profound changes. It is vital that people of my generation, and generations to come, never take for granted the progress we have made together. We must recommit ourselves to the path of friendship and understanding.
Of course, the changing relationship between the UK and the EU will require us to work together, to ensure that the relationship between Ireland and the UK remains just as strong.
Over the past two days, Catherine and I have seen for ourselves why Ireland is a country looked upon with such envy.
As we stood on the cliffs at Howth and looked across the Irish Sea – a mere 50 miles to the British coastline – it was easy to see why so many people find the lure of this beautiful country so difficult to resist.
And beyond the breath-taking landscapes, we have received such wonderful hospitality and friendship from all those we have met.
And this morning we were privileged to meet a group of remarkable people who are working to improve the lives of those who are less fortunate. Their commitment and their desire to help is truly inspirational.
And we’re looking forward to seeing the wonders that the West coast has to offer when we travel there tomorrow.
Ladies and gentlemen, legal treaties are vital in underpinning the relationships between states. But relationships between people are equally, if not more, essential – especially between the people of our two countries, whose lives, histories and futures are so deeply intertwined. I am confident that friendship, understanding and a shared vision for a peaceful and prosperous future will ensure that the unique and precious bond between our people is not broken. My family is determined to continue playing our part in protecting, preserving and strengthening that bond.
So tonight, we celebrate our commitment to working together – a commitment that I firmly believe will support our relationship in going from strength to strength.
Ladies and gentlemen, may I offer a toast to the President of Ireland and to the people of this wonderful country in thanks for the warmth of your welcome on what I hope will be the first of many visits for us.
Go raibh míle maith agaibh go léir.