Celebrating Youth on St. Patrick’s Day

17-03-2024 10:30 AM
Marianne Bolger, Ambassador of Ireland to Jordan

St. Patrick’s Day is an opportunity each year to celebrate Ireland and Irish culture. Our national day is celebrated in every corner of the world, largely thanks to the more than 70 million people globally who claim Irish ancestry, and many more who share an affinity with Ireland.

This year, however, we are acutely aware that “celebrating” anything provokes doubt and hesitation for many people, and for good reason. We have witnessed more than two years of unprovoked Russian brutality in Ukraine. Moreover, much to our despair, violence has returned to this region where we have watched with horror as the conflict in Gaza has unfolded with the killing of tens of thousands of innocent civilians.

Ireland has a clear and principled position on these conflicts. We have demanded accountability internationally for Russia’s illegal invasion and we are one of the strongest supporters of Ukraine’s path to EU membership. With respect to the conflict in Gaza, we have argued strongly for all actors to uphold international humanitarian law, and have advocated since the outset of the conflict for a humanitarian ceasefire so that sustained humanitarian assistance can be provided to the civilian population of Gaza, including our own sustained scaling up of humanitarian assistance and ongoing support for UNRWA. We have also condemned Hamas’s terrorist attack on 7 October, and we have called at every juncture for all hostages in Gaza to be released unconditionally. Protecting civilians in conflict - all civilians, everywhere - is our highest priority.

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 very close to home in Northern Ireland. Undoubtedly, these experiences have shaped how we view the world around us today.

This St. Patrick’s Day, Ireland is shining a light on the positive force for change that young people around the world can bring. Young people have been to the fore in opening our eyes to the climate emergency, and in delivering innovative solutions to help 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 have called on key actors, like the UN Security Council, to speak and act coherently in support of a rules-based international order and for human rights. Indeed, it was these priorities that Ireland sought to emphasise in our own most recent term on the Council in 2021-22.

Young people are at the heart of what makes Ireland a great place to invest, trade, visit and study too. Ireland is home to many of the world’s top software, medical and technology companies globally. Those companies – and very many others – have chosen Ireland because of our economic track record, stability, ease of doing business, and access to a European Union market of 450 million people. However, we firmly believe these companies have chosen Ireland because of our talented and highly educated young workforce.

Since the opening of an Irish Embassy in Jordan in 2019, Ireland and Jordan have made great strides in their bilateral relationship over this five year period. The two countries share common values and hold many similar political outlooks. In addition, I am proud that much of our work at the Embassy has focused on young people, for example, Ireland and Jordan have cooperated closely in the fields of education and innovation, most notably, through the Jordan Young Scientists (JoYS) Initiative, a nationwide programme based on an Irish model, which the Embassy of Ireland strongly supports.

Reflecting also the young talent and great potential that exists in Jordan along with the commitment demonstrated by His Majesty, King Abdullah II and the Government of Jordan in championing a modernisation agenda, the work of the Embassy has also focused on building business and trade relations between our two countries.

There is an old Irish saying: “Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireannn na Daoine” – “We live in each other’s shadow”. This will remain true for young people in Jordan, in Ireland and around the world for 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.

The writer is the Ambassador of Ireland to Jordan

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