An tUachtarán agus Sabina Higgins i láthair ag Féasta Stáit, ar scáth Uachtaráin agus Céad-Bhean…

Lua 7th Sam, 2016 | 18:30
suíomh: Hanáí, Vítneam

Remarks and Toast at a State Banquet

International Convention Centre, Hanoi, Vietnam, 7th November 2016

After the collision of Empires that was the First World War all over Europe, both our peoples were stirred by an urge for emancipation that was not to be confined within any boundaries.

President Trang Dai Quang,
Madame Nguyen Thi Hien,
Distinguished Guests,

A Chairde uile,

Ar mo shon féin agus ar son mo bhean Saidhbhín, is mian liom mo bhuíochas a ghabháil libh as bhur fíorchaoin fáilte.

[I would like, on my own behalf, and on behalf of my wife Sabina, to thank you for the warmth of your welcome.]

It is an honour to be here as President of Ireland on the first ever State Visit by an Irish President to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. I am delighted to be joined by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Charles Flanagan, and his wife, Mary.

This year we celebrate twenty years of diplomatic relations between Ireland and Vietnam. While the formal relationship between our two countries is relatively short, the depth of shared historical experience stretches beyond both the brevity of our formal ties and the length of the geographic distance between us. We are two peoples who have been shaped by historical challenges of such similarity as gives us an instinctive understanding of one another.

Both of our peoples have suffered the horrendous experience of famine – in Ireland in the 1840s, and in Vietnam nearly one hundred years later. The causes were equally complex – not just accidents of nature, both famines unfolded in the context of Empire, an ideological view of economic policy and trade that slowed, or even prevented, intervention, and both also took place in the context of conflict.

There is some speculation that there may have been contact between the Irish revolutionary leader Michael Collins and your great leader Ho Chi Minh, when they lived in London in the 1920s. Whatever the truth of that legend, we know that the impact of colonialism and conflict on our two nations was acute.

After the collision of Empires that was the First World War all over Europe, both our peoples were stirred by an urge for emancipation that was not to be confined within any boundaries.

I think of the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 when a young Ho Chi Minh sent a petition asking for independence from France, but did not receive an answer from the presiding world powers, preoccupied as they were with the adjustment of their interests in new circumstances. Similarly, the doors in Paris remained closed to Irish Republicans who were seeking to advance Irish independence from the British Empire.

This year, Ireland has been commemorating the 1916 Rising – a key event on our path to independence. The passage of time and this centennial reflection has helped us, Irish, to accept the value of being inclusive as to the differing views on Ireland’s revolution and its context.

I have been struck today by the reflective capacity, the resilience, and the understanding of the Vietnamese people which has enabled them to forge a fresh start and build links with former foes. Such breadth of vision has been an invaluable element in Vietnam’s rapid and impressive social and economic development.

In recent decades, Ireland and Vietnam have drawn closer internationally, through our shared emphasis on multilateral engagement, particularly at the United Nations, where we have collaborated on the development of instruments that would lead to the elimination or the control of those cluster munitions which have inflicted so much loss of life and capacity on your country.

On Wednesday, I will travel to Quang Tri Province, to meet the provincial leadership and to see the work that is supported through the Irish Aid programme in the education of communities on the threat that unexploded ordnance continues to pose.

I am also looking forward to the opportunity of meeting some of your ethnic minority communities. Ireland has been working in partnership with the Government of Vietnam, the non-governmental sector, and these communities themselves, in supporting their development. The rich diversity of Vietnamese culture is one that greatly impressed me when I first visited your country; that cultural diversity is, I am convinced, a great asset for the future, to be cherished and nurtured.

Both our countries can take inspiration from each other as we seek to ensure that government, society and business work together in shaping and securing a development path that will lead us to a sustainable future; one in which politics, economic life and ecological responsibility will combine to produce inclusive and ethical growth in a real, productive, economy.
There is a growing and welcome movement of people between our countries. We have a growing and vibrant Vietnamese community in Ireland. They are amongst the most dynamic contributors to Irish society. About 10,000 Irish visitors travel to Vietnam each year, and we have a resident Irish community of about 600 who are particularly active in education and in business.

There is much that we share in cultural values. We are both known for the importance we attach to our long history and for our mutual appreciation of learning and literature – values I witnessed during my visit to the Temple of Literature yesterday. Our peoples are also passionate about music and song. Tomorrow we will bring some representatives of the young generation of Irish musicians to the Hanoi Opera House, where we hope to share with you the energy and spirit of traditional Irish music.

For all of these reasons, and many more, I am pleased to be here with you this evening to celebrate the friendship between our peoples. I hope that my visit will set the framework for the next and deeper chapter in our relations, to the mutual benefit of our peoples and I look forward, President Quang, to receiving you when you visit Ireland.

Let me now invite you all to join me in a toast:

To you, President Trang Dai Quang and Madame Nguyen Thi Hien and to the people of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, I offer my thanks and sincerest good wishes, and invite the company to raise your glasses with an Irish wish for good health – Sláinte!