Fine Gael TD for Galway West & Mayo South

Speech at the Showcase Event for Galway 2020, The Printworks, Market Street

A leas-mhéara – A Chomhairleoir Lyons, Uachtarán an Dlísheomra, agus a Dhaoine Uaisle. Tá áthas orm a bheith anseo anocht chun an imeacht seo a cheiliúradh libh, an oíche seo atá ina measc ócáidí lárnacha i gclár imeachtaí Ghaillimh 2020, Príomhchathair Chultúir na hEorpa. Is oíche atá ann chun chomóradh a dhéanamh do Ghaillimh agus a clú láidir do chultúir. Suite ag an gcósta thiar is mó d’Eorpa, tá sé riachtanach anois níos mó thar ariamh go nglacfar leis an gcultúir lena éagsúlachtaí go léir agus go dtabharfar faoi deara a ról lárnach le comhthuiscint a fháil.

In 2014, when the proposal came before Government to exercise the right of Ireland to host the European Capital of Culture in 2020, the Government did not hesitate. The European Capital of Culture initiative aims to safeguard and promote the diversity of cultures in Europe, as well as raise awareness among the peoples of Europe of the common features they share.

On this point it is impossible to speak tonight without making reference to Brexit. The draft agreement is a work of art in itself given the time and effort spent crafting it. The contrasting relationship that we, on the one hand, have with Europe and that which Britain has on the other, have never been more divergent. Sadly, Britain has decided to leave the European Union and in doing so step back. Ireland, in contrast, is continuing to build relationships, forge new links and new friendships across our continent. The designation of European Capital of Culture is proof of this; it is proof of our desire to be at the heart of Europe, to share our culture and to experience the best of new and different cultures.

The European Capital of Culture serves to highlight the quality and variety of artistic and cultural endeavour that Galway City and County has to offer, it engages communities through volunteering, participation in and attendance at events. It also aims to foster the contribution of culture to the long-term development of the host cities and surrounding areas.

Just this week another global company chose Galway and joined the wide range of international and indigenous companies working from Galway and the West in diverse sectors such as life sciences, telecommunications, ICT, among others.

I commented that it is always a source of pride to know that companies – global and local – are delivering products and services that such an impact, such a positive difference around the world. The same is true for the artistic and cultural community in Galway and the West. Whether it is literature, film, theatre, song or dance, ‘as Bearla nó as Gaeilge’, Galway is renowned for its artists, actors, musicians, writers and poets, across the world. The proof can be seen in the constant stream of work and the calendar full of community-based and international festivals.

The vision of Galway 2020 – Making Waves – as expressed through its key themes of migration, landscape and language also chimes with the Government’s priority in Global Ireland 2025 to share our culture and heritage more widely around the world over the coming years. It is through the sharing of our language, art, music, dance, performance and literature that we increase our understanding of ourselves and others.

Sharing also fosters inclusivity, and I have noted that key elements of Galway 2020 seek to ensure that all sections of the community, in particular, young people, and new members of the community, can participate in and experience all that Galway 2020 will have to offer. As one participant commented: Galway 2020 is by all, for all.

There is something here for everyone, whether it is as one of the cultural producers, artists or performers already so established in Galway City and County, or, perhaps, as one of the emerging talent that Galway has to offer in exciting and innovative initiatives such as Small Towns, Big Ideas. Perhaps, your interest is more in contributing to bringing all these wonderful projects to life as one of the volunteers or business partners. Take the time here tonight, look at the exhibitions, talk to the Galway 2020 team and hear about what is planned and what you could become involved in.

Sula gcríochnaím, ba mhaith liom moladh a thabhairt d’fhoireann 2020 na Gaillimhe, ní hamháin mar gur éirigh leo an tairiscint a bhaint amach chun Caipiteal Cultúir a óstáil i réimse iomaíochta agus ardchaighdeáin, ach freisin as a gcuid oibre agus tiomantas suntasach ag forbairt  an fhoireann  agus an struchtúir atá i bhfeidhm anois chun Caipiteal Cultúir a sheachadadh do mhuintir na Gaillimhe, na hÉireann agus na hEorpa. Guím gach rath orthu sna blianta atá romhainn.

Ba mhaith liom buíochas a ghabháil chomh maith leis na Comhairlí Cathrach agus Contae, a bpríomhfheidhmeannaigh, oifigigh agus formhór na gcomhairleoirí as a dtiomantas do Ghaillimh 2020. Tá siad agus beidh siad ríthábhachtach chun an seachadadh a chinntiú.

Tá Gaillimh suite ar imeall an Iarthair san Eoraip, ach i 2020, beidh a gcuid ealaíontóirí, taibheoirí, cónaitheoirí agus pobail i gcroílár na hEorpa.

Tá an Rialtas, agus mé fhéin, mar Phríomh-Aoire an Rialtais agus Aire Stáit don Ghaeilge, don Ghaeltacht agus do na hOileain agus mar TD do Ghaillimh agus fear atá bródúil as Gaillimh, ag súil go mór le Gaillimh 2020 a bheas ina bhliain rathúil do Ghaillimh agus d’Éirinn.

That there have been teething problems for Galway 2020 is undeniable. However, the hard work, the perseverance and the commitment of so many groups and individual to Galway 2020 is also entirely undeniable.

Without a shadow of a doubt, I know that Galway 2020 will be a success and that success will come from the Galway 2020 team, the support of Galway City and County Councils and of the Government through the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. And most of all, that success will come from the work of individuals and communities across Galway.

When the Galway football, hurling or camogie teams make it to Croke Park we get behind them. When Connacht Rugby takes on some of the world’s toughest competitors we get behind them. And now that Galway has been chosen as European Capital of Culture 2020 the onus is on all of us to get behind Galway 2020.

Go raibh maith agaibh go léir. Táthar ag súil le i bhfad níos mó fógraí agus comórtha libh agus an Ghaillimh ag bogadh ar aghaidh chuig, agus ag baint taitneamh as, a bliain mar Phríomhchathair Chultúir na hEorpa.