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Ireland’s National Day – St. Patrick’s Day – 2024

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“Looking to the Future this St. Patrick’s Day”

 Every St. Patrick’s Day, Irish Embassies around the world take the occasion to mark our national day with pride and to reflect on the strong relationships which bind Ireland to the rest of the world. In Ethiopia, the Embassy of Ireland in Addis Ababa is no different. Every year on March 17th, we reflect on the strong and historical relationship which links Ireland and Ethiopia. It goes back at least as far as 1936, when the then Irish Prime Minister Éamon de Valera supported Emperor Haile Selassie’s call for support at the League of Nations against the invasion of Mussolini’s Italy. We remember the efforts of Irish priests, sisters and missionaries to improve the lives of Ethiopians throughout the 20th century and the work of Bob Geldof and others to address the extraordinary famine which afflicted Ethiopia in the 1980s. This year is especially memorable for us at the Embassy as we mark 30 years of Ireland–Ethiopia diplomatic relations, since the opening of the Irish Embassy in Addis Ababa in 1994.

We realise that, in Ireland, we are fortunate to have a National Day that is known in many corners of the world. St. Patrick’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate Ireland with the more than 70 million people globally who claim Irish ancestry and the many more who show their fondness for Ireland in a great variety of ways.

Ireland’s own history includes experiences of famine, poverty and forced migration. Even the relative growth and prosperity we have enjoyed since joining the European Union in 1973 co-existed, at least until the 1990s, with conflict in Northern Ireland. These experiences have, to an obvious degree, shaped how we view the world around us today. It is because of this history, because of these challenges which Ireland has faced, that we view the celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day around the world with great pride.

The notion of “celebrating” something like a national day in our world today might provoke hesitation for some people. We are seeing challenges around the world today, in Ukraine, in Gaza, in the Horn of Africa. People across the world are suffering from extreme hardship. But for many in Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is not just a celebration, it is a day on which we mark the strong principles and values which Irish people hold dear. It is a day on which we mark the contributions which Ireland and Irish people have dedicated their lives to improving the lot of their fellow people and to confronting the challenges which the world faces.

And so it should be no surprise that we look to young people as we seek to tackle such grand challenges. Young people have been to the fore in opening our eyes to the climate emergency and to the innovative solutions that can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and deliver a clean energy future. Young people globally have demanded respect for international law and for multilateral institutions, and for key actors like the UN Security Council to speak and act coherently in support of a rules-based order, sustainable development and human rights. There key priorities are central to Ireland’s approach to the world.

Young Irish people in Ethiopia have and are working to educate young Ethiopians. They are working on humanitarian action and to improve the lives of the furthest behind first – all of these efforts combining and aligning to contribute to fulfilling Ireland’s vision of a better world for all.

Young people are at the heart of what makes Ireland a great place to invest, trade, visit and study too. Companies have put down roots in Ireland because of our economic track record, stability, ease of doing business and access to a European Union market of 450 million people. But they are also in Ireland because of our talent pool, with brilliant globally-connected young people from across the European Union a key part of our dynamic workforce.

Ireland is a country where enterprise is valued and young entrepreneurs are supported to bring their products and ideas to international markets. And many of those ideas have blossomed in a world-class Irish university system that attracts thousands of students from around the world because of the safe, welcoming and culturally rich environment on offer in Ireland for young people.

Every year, the Irish Embassy in Addis Ababa is proud to send young Ethiopians to Ireland for masters’ programme studies to benefit from the richness of this education system. In 2024, an additional 12 Ethiopian students will be funded by the Government of Ireland to pursue a master’s degree in Ireland, the highest number ever in one year. They are following in the footsteps of over 200 Ethiopian young people who have studied in Ireland and who return to contribute to Ethiopia’s development and to stronger people-to-people links between our two countries.

And so, Ireland, the Irish people, and the Embassy of Ireland in Addis Ababa would like to take the opportunity this March 17thto wish the people of Ethiopia a very happy St. Patrick’s Day. As we proceed together into the future, hand in hand with the Ethiopian people, we look forward to a deepening partnership which will benefit all of us, Ireland and Ethiopia alike. Together, we can all be a voice for progress, for peace, for human dignity and for equality for all.

There is an old Irish saying: “Arscáth a chéile a mhaireannnnaDaoine” – “We live in each other’s shadow”. This will remain true for our young people in the world in the years to come. Protecting and supporting each other, and building enduring partnerships, has never been more vital. It is our focus too this St. Patrick’s Day.

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