Remarks at a Garden Party celebrating Being Young and Irish
Áras an Uachtaráin, 3rd July 2012
Good afternoon and thank you to all of you for coming along to Áras an Uachtaráin today. It is a great privilege for Sabina and me to welcome you all here to the house and gardens and to be able to share these beautiful surroundings.
Tá súil agam go bhfuil sibh ag baint taitneamh agus tairbhe as an gceol agus amhránaíocht den scoth mar aon leis an mbia blasta ag an cóisir gairdine álainn seo inniu.
[I hope you have all been having a good time and enjoying the garden which is looking wonderful, the superb entertainment and the delicious food].
The focus of today’s garden party is to celebrate the contribution made by young Irish people to Irish society and it is marvellous to welcome so many young people from throughout Ireland to Áras an Uachtaráin; I hope the day is enjoyable, filled with friendship and laughter, and provides an opportunity to meet new friends and develop new possibilities for the future.
Today is about acknowledging and valuing the energy, creativity and enthusiasm that young people can bring to the transformation of Ireland. I’m not going to dwell on the bruised and battered recent history that has been handed down, but on the power and energy required and available to us to transform the country. Change is inevitable, and conscious involvement in directing change is empowering, and very different from drifting with change. Being the arrow, not the target means being active not passive in this time of challenge and change.
Changing our country for the better in an inclusive and creative way is possible if we work together. We need young and old, people of all backgrounds, to join forces and support each other, to work together to transform Ireland, to create a kind of Irishness we can be proud of at home and abroad. We need young people to share their vision and help us to build together a real republic that provides opportunities, hope and respect for all. In doing this we can draw on the idealism of our past but also imagine our as yet unrealized possibilities – ár féidireachtaí gan teorainn.
We need to rebuild a sense of trust and community so that we can build a new economy predicated on a shared common good. We must work together, collectively to build this active inclusive citizenship.
The active engagement of all of our citizens in decision making at local and national levels is a hallmark of inclusive citizenship. Such participatory decision making depends on both enhancing the capacities of people who previously have been excluded from decision making, on the one hand and on creating, and if necessary reforming, the institutional mechanisms for their voice to be heard on the other.
At the end of May I launched here ‘Being Young and Irish’, the first in a series of seminars that I will be running throughout my Presidency, aimed at shaping Ireland’s shared future.
The transformation of Ireland needs the commitment and contribution of people of all ages and the passion, innovation and vision that young people in particular can bring. ‘Being Young and Irish’ opens a discussion on the kind of country that we want to create and can contribute to that transformation.
The closing date for your submissions is 29 September. We also have the opportunity to hear from some young people in person. In September my office will host four regional workshops in Dublin, Galway, Monaghan and Cork. There are 100 places at each of those workshops and I believe the Dublin workshop is already nearly full. All the information you need on my website www.president.ie
Ireland’s youth radio stations are here today and I would like to express my sincere thanks to the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland and RTÉ Radio who have agreed to come on board as pro bono partners for this project. There are also advertising people here today from CawleyNea/TBWA who have come on board to give pro bono support.
Many of young people friends have left the country and are spread primarily throughout North America, Australia, New Zealand and Britain as well as other less typical locations for Irish migrations. With that in mind my team are in discussions with Facebook and Google who are interested in being part of this project and helping us to virtually involve young Irish people who are abroad.
To apply to attend visit the website www.president.ie
After the consultation period I will host a Presidency Seminar here at Áras an Uachtaráin and at that seminar young Irish people will present their practical solutions for this country to Ireland’s decision makers and agencies to inform them of the practical policy and programme proposals for our society.
So today I am inviting you to contribute to this opportunity to share your views and shape the country’s future. Make a video, write a submission, write some music or poetry on your vision for Ireland.
I certainly hope that today will become one of those special memories and I would like to conclude by thanking all those who have worked so hard on behalf of the Áras to make this a wonderful occasion for you. A big thank you to our DJ for today, Richie McCann, and to our MC, Scott de Buitlér, and also to David Mangan, David Burke, Storyfold and Key West for the music and dance they have been entertaining you with, and to Stagecraft for providing the talented magician.
You all have been keeping our guests entertained throughout the day and have enhanced their visit here with your talent and enthusiasm. Sabina and I are looking forward to seeing you perform in a few moments.
Thank you, also, to the staff here at the Áras, to our friends in St John’s Ambulance Brigade, the Civil Defence, the Gardaí, the tour guides and all who have worked so hard to make today an occasion of friendship and joy.
Sabina and I hope you have a great afternoon. Enjoy the rest of your time here and thank you for coming.
Go raibh míle maith agaibh go léir.