May 9th 2023
Earlier today I opened a lovely community event in Carlow to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ireland joining our European family. It was organised by Carlow Development Partnership in association with Carlow County Council, and it brought people together to reflect on how the country has changed since Ireland joined the then European Economic Community (EEC) in 1973.
I was delighted to speak at the event, along with development partnership CEO Annette Fox, and I particularly like the focus on how the lives of women have been positively effected by Ireland's membership of the EU, with speakers across the morning emphasising the work that still remains to break down the barriers to gender equality.
It was wonderful to see both primary and secondary school pupils there enjoying all the activities, and just the day before I'd had a chance to have my own Europe Day celebrations with the students of Kilkenny City Vocational School.
Back in Dublin, after a full day of Dáil business, I was privileged to attend a wonderful performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in the National Concert Hall - a very special way to round off Europe Day 2023, and an opportunity to contemplate what EU membership has done for Ireland. We have come a long way in that fifty years, and made much progress in environmental, social, cultural and economic policy but the European peace project is still a work in progress. It's important that we stay the course and work in solidarity towards social, economic and ecological justice.