Speech delivered by
Mr David Stanton, TD. Minister of State
9 December 2019
Check against Delivery
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great privilege for me to be here with you in the INEC Killarney, on this very special day, the day on which Irish citizenship will be formally conferred on you during this simple but solemn ceremony, the dignity of which is greatly enhanced by the rendition of “Ode to Joy” by the Army Band and the performance of our guest Harpist. Becoming a citizen of one’s country goes to the essence of our democracy and constitutional principles – principles which I as a Minister of this Government have the honour to uphold.
I extend a warm welcome to you, the candidates, sitting directly in front of me, who will shortly become Ireland’s newest citizens.
You will have found in your packs a personalised letter of congratulations from An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar extending his warm congratulations to you on this important day.
Together with your family and with your friends here today we join with you in celebrating this major event in your life.
Today, you will take an oath of fidelity to our nation and loyalty to our State. You will do so in the knowledge that this relatively young State – still less than a century since our independence was gained - is a place of culture where traditions are cherished and history is ever-present. Be sure, too, that this State is a place of diversity and openness.
The people of Ireland are committed to respecting all traditions on this island equally. We also recognise that developing a greater understanding of our shared history, in all its diversity, is essential to developing greater understanding and building a shared future. That shared future has taken on an increasingly vital aspect when we consider political developments across the water and highlights the importance of our membership of the European family of nations.
It is important, however, that we do not become complacent and that we continue to keep integration to the fore.
Back in 2017 this Government launched a new Migrant Integration Strategy which provides the framework for Government action on migrant integration for the years 2017 to 2020.
It is intended to address the challenges that we anticipate in the years ahead and is aimed at all new comers to our shores both EU and non-EU nationals, including refugees. It is also aimed at our own citizens with the primary objective of ensuring that barriers to full participation in Irish society are identified and addressed and the basic values of Irish society are respected by all. Ultimately, it’s about building a society where we all live in harmony while at the same time respecting our cultural or religious differences.
On becoming Irish citizens you will have the same rights, the same duties and the same responsibilities as every other Irish citizen. We ask you, as we ask all our citizens, to participate actively in our communities, to be good citizens, and to uphold the law. The possibilities opened up to you in Ireland today are almost limitless; perhaps one day, you or a child or grandchild of yours, could be up here as Minister for Justice, or as Judge, or perhaps the President of Ireland. Your presence at this ceremony today marks the end of the process to citizenship.
You are now beginning a new journey and a new phase of your life as our newest Irish citizens.
My earnest wish for each and every one of you here today as you embark on this new phase, is that it will be a journey full of hope and full of optimism with a bright new future as members of the great Irish global family.
The dignity and solemnity of today’s ceremony is greatly enhanced by the presence of Judge McMahon, who will perform the role of Presiding Officer. Judge McMahon will administer the Declaration of Fidelity to the Irish Nation and Loyalty to the State – this is the final element of the application process and without it you cannot become an Irish citizen.
The presence of the Colour Party under the command of Lt Matthew Kennedy also underlines the solemnity and importance of the ceremony.
Over the course of today, almost 2,000 new citizens will be welcomed to the Irish family. Since the introduction of Citizenship ceremonies 8 years ago, almost 120,000 persons from every continent, every region and more than 180 countries have become new citizens of Ireland.
It is truly remarkable that this tiny island at the edge of Western Europe facing into the Atlantic Ocean which is home to us all has, as its citizens, as members of the national family, people who came to live with us from every country on this planet. I think we all deserve a round of applause for that….
Today we, as the host nation, or perhaps as the people who got here a little bit before you, are acknowledging in a most public way your presence here, your successful negotiation of the due process of naturalisation and we wish you our best wishes for your future.
As you leave here today, as proud new citizens of this Republic and constitutional democracy, our history is your history and, in turn, the narrative of your life is now part of our history.
Becoming a citizen of Ireland means much more than having an Irish passport or being able to vote. These of course, are very important but at a much deeper level you are affirming your commitment to the values we cherish most and which are rooted in our history.
In so doing you are also affirming your support for our sense of mutual responsibility to one another as citizens of this country. By being citizens you are part of a common thread which unites and binds all of us.
What we ask of all our citizens for all our sakes are serious and solemn pledges and it is our duty to uphold them. On behalf of the Irish people we ask that you do your utmost to uphold these pledges to our nation, to its values and to your fellow citizens as you go forward from here today as our newest citizens.
In turn by our laws and our traditions we commit to continue to recognise the personal rights of you as individuals in a proud nation which greatly values inclusion, tolerance and diversity.
Finally, I wish to congratulate you, one and all, on becoming our newest Irish citizens – we welcome you to our national family.
I now formally introduce Judge McMahon and call upon him to administer the declaration, in which you publicly declare your Fidelity to our Nation and Loyalty to our State as well as undertaking to faithfully observe the laws of the State and respect its democratic values.