Wednesday 19 June 2019

Taoiseach urges conservative countries to look to Ireland as an example

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has travelled to Egypt to attend the first ever EU-Arab League Summit (Tom Honan/PA)
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has travelled to Egypt to attend the first ever EU-Arab League Summit (Tom Honan/PA)
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has urged leaders of some of the world’s most conservative countries to look to Ireland as an example of how change can be positive.

Addressing an EU-Arab League of Nations summit in Egypt, Mr Varadkar told how Ireland “has changed a lot in the past 10 years”.

“We have become leaders in advancing equality for women and members of the LGBT community. We have legalised both same sex marriage - the right to love - and abortion - the right to choose,” he said.

“I respect that every country has its own culture, traditions and religious beliefs. However we believe these rights are universal.”

The Taoiseach was speaking to leaders with some of the most regressive laws on relating to women and homosexuality. They include Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE and Iraq.

Mr Varadkar explained how almost a century ago Ireland became an independent state, “claiming our place among the nations of the world”.

“Since then, we have worked hard to build our nation, and to move beyond our history of colonialism, conflict, Poverty, famine and forced migration. We have succeeded,” he said.

The summit in Egypt is the first of its kind, with 24 out of the 28 EU heads of government also in attendance.

Mr Varadkar said Ireland feels “stronger, more secure and more prosperous thanks to the European Union”.

“I think that Europe is stronger and safer when it works in partnership with other regions, within a multilateral, rules-based system,” he said.

“As a relatively small country, Ireland’s positive experience of multilateralism has reinforced our conviction that the international community can achieve far greater things by working together.”

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