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Speaking Points for Minister Zappone

St Patrick’s Day Reception co-hosted by the Consulate of Ireland, Boston and Irish Network Boston at Fenway Park

Distinguished Guests, Friends of Ireland, a Chairde,

It’s my great pleasure to be in Boston, the capital of Irish America, this evening.

As a Boston College alum, it is wonderful to be here at the home of the Red Sox surrounded by so many friends of Ireland celebrating St Patrick’s Day and all things Irish. I am sure it is no coincidence that we are here celebrating at the home of the Green Monster!

I am thrilled that tomorrow evening, in this most Irish city, we will make Boston’s City Hall light up in green to celebrate St Patrick’s Day.

There are truly special links between Ireland and the State of Massaschusetts, and it is a great source of pride to us all that successive generations of Irish people have contributed so much to this great State.

I know that there are many people in this room who have for many years been stalwart friends to the Irish community here, in all walks of life, and on behalf of the Irish Government and your friends and families in Ireland, I would like to thank you for your dedication and hard work and to assure you that it is much appreciated.

I would particularly like to commend those who took part in and helped to organise the multitude of events that took place last year in New England to commemorate the Centenary of the 1916 Rising. As you know, the example of the American Revolution inspired generations of Irish patriots, and the Government of Ireland is very grateful for America’s support in the years leading up to the 1916 Rising and in the 101 years since then.

The success of the commemorations has shown just how important it is that we take time to reflect upon our past, not only to commemorate, but also so that we can chart a course for Ireland’s future.

Building on the tremendous public engagement in the 1916 events in Ireland and around the world, the Irish Government recently launched an exciting new scheme called ‘Creative Ireland’ to encourage and showcase Irish creativity.

As Minister for Children and Youth Affairs I am particularly delighted to think of all the young school children who will benefit from the Creative Ireland scheme, and will learn to play a musical instrument, learn coding or be inspired to become the next Yeats, Joyce or Heaney. The Creative Ireland scheme will truly be a celebration of the Irish creative spirit.

Many amongst you here today – I have only to look at our fine musicians – are wonderful ambassadors for Irish culture, including our music, our song, our dramatic arts, our sports, and of course our strong literary tradition. Thank you for your dedication to keeping the flame of our culture and our traditions burning brightly for the next generations of Irish Americans.

Culture can be a source of solace and hope to people in trying times. And I know that many of you here today will have been touched by the anxieties of family, friends or neighbours in the Irish community. Many people are concerned about their future in the context of the current debate around immigration.

I wish to acknowledge the key roles of the Irish organisations in New England who are supporting the most vulnerable in society, and providing a guiding light during a time of great uncertainty. The Irish Government is proud to support the work of those organisations, and is deeply appreciative of their expertise, their experience, and the dedication of their employees.

Be assured that the Irish Government and its Embassy and Consulates continue to work tirelessly to support progress on immigration reform and to open legal pathways for migrants to come here.

The USA has long been a friend to Ireland, and, as someone who was born here, I can vouch that the bonds between our two great countries are wide and deep.

It is my absolute pleasure to be here with you all this evening at Fenway Park, and I thank you all for coming out tonight. Let’s celebrate the great luck it is to be Irish, and give Fenway’s Green Monster a night to remember!

Go raibh mile maith agaibh go léir.
Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig!

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