Thursday, 14 July 2022
Gnó an tSeanaid - Business of Seanad
Before I read out some messages from the Dáil, I am sure colleagues will join me in welcoming the French ambassador to Ireland, H.E Mr. Vincent Guérend, to Seanad Éireann and wishing him a very happy Bastille Day. The storming of the Bastille marked the beginning of a revolution that created a republic under the guiding principles of liberté, égalité and fraternité. It is well known that many young Irish men and women were inspired by the values of the French republic to pursue their own quest for freedom and independence.
Ireland's national flag was directly inspired by the French tricolour. Thomas Francis Meagher received a gift of the Tricolour - a flag of green, white and orange - from the French when he visited Paris in 1848. Next year will be the 175th anniversary of the first flying of an Irish flag on 7 March 1848 at 33 The Mall, Waterford. When he spoke of its meaning, Thomas Francis Meagher said, "The white in the centre signifies a lasting truce between orange and green and I trust that beneath its folds the hands of Irish Protestants and Irish Catholics may be clasped in generous and heroic brotherhood."
France supported Ireland's quest for independence. In 1798, the first Irish Republic was proclaimed by Wolfe Tone and supported by General Humbert. Next year will be the 225th anniversary of the famous "Year of the French", when General Humbert led an expedition to County Mayo. The anniversary will provide an opportunity to reflect on the deep and lasting relationships between Ireland and France and the impact that France's ideas of independence had on our two democracies.
Ireland and the world were transformed by the events in France 233 years ago. We owe our French friends and colleagues an enormous debt of gratitude for blazing a trail of freedom not just for Ireland but for millions around the world. On the national day of France, our nearest EU neighbour, H.E Mr. Guérend and his wife are most welcome to Seanad Éireann and I wish them a very happy Bastille Day. I know the ambassador is busy and will host a reception this evening.