Wednesday 18 January 2017

Historic handshake between Gerry Adams and Britain's Prince Charles shows 'how far' Ireland has come - Ban Ki-moon

Published 25/05/2015 | 20:13

President Michael D. Higgins and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon enjoy a glass of freshly pressed Aras apple juice. Photo: Maxwells/Julien Behal
President Michael D. Higgins and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon enjoy a glass of freshly pressed Aras apple juice. Photo: Maxwells/Julien Behal

The historic handshake between Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams and Prince Charles shows "how far" Ireland has come on as a country, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said.

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The Secretary-General also praised Ireland's "unshakable spirit".

This has enabled our "champion country" to "punch above its weight" on a global scale.

"Ireland's imprint has been huge and historical; well out of proportion to the country's size and population," he said.

"Ireland shows the ability of small states to make a big difference.

"The Good Friday Agreement that ended the conflict in Northern Ireland, showed how countries can avoid condemning their children, to endless cycles of violence.

"Last week's moving handshake between Prince Charles and Gerry Adams was another reminder of how far you have come.

"Not so long ago, such an encounter would have never been possible, even to conceive."

Speaking at a special event in Dublin this evening, he also congratulated Ireland for legalising same-sex marriage.

"You don't have to be LGBT to care about LGBT rights...you only have to care about equality, fairness and human dignity.

"Those values are part of the Irish identity."

He also pointed out that even during years of austerity, we continued to provide foreign aid to other countries.

"Ireland has emerged successfully from a deep economic and fiscal crisis," he said.

"While Irish unemployment rose, Ireland worked hard to provide aid to other countries.

"In going through your own period of austerity, you refused to inflict that on others."

The UN Secretary-General was in Dublin Castle for an Iveagh House Lecture, entitled 'The UN at 70: Looking Back, Looking Forward.'

In his keynote speech, delivered in front of over 300 specially invited guests, he said Ireland is "outward looking" and "connected to the world."

However, while the Government has been a "champion" of efforts to conquer world hunger, he said it has failed to treat climate change seriously.

"For too long, the response to climate change has been hindered by entrenched national interests.

"If we take action today, it may not be too late," he stressed.

High-profile attendees included former Taoiseach, Liam Cosgrave, who was Minister for External Affairs when Ireland joined the United Nations in 1955, and UN Special Envoy for Climate Change, Mary Robinson.

The lecture, hosted by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in partnership with the Institute for International and European Affairs, marked the launch of Ireland’s programme of events to celebrate our 60th anniversary of UN membership.

The programme includes a series of Iveagh House lectures, and an 'anniversary exhibition' in Dublin and New York.

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