This timely and important intervention in the debates concerning Europe in Ireland begins with the 1916 Centenary celebration. The Brexit decision of June 2016 has fundamentally altered Ireland's relationship with the European Union and has exponentially increased interest in European matters in public debates. Yet, public discussions regarding Ireland's closer links with the European Union often remain purely utilitarian and economic, or take place solely within academia. There is an urgent need to broaden the debate towards the cultural and social spheres, which includes highlighting the inherently European quality of Irish culture and society, in the past as much as the present.
The most extensive interventions on these issues in recent years have come from the President of Ireland. This edition collects all of the major speeches on the topic of Europe since 2016. They encompass interventions on historical aspects, bilateral cultural links, citizens' involvement in the European project, workers' rights and ecological concerns. The present Covid-19 crisis will further move the European Union into the limelight, in particular its role in helping member states cope with the consequences of this unprecedented disaster. President Higgins addresses the Great Flu Epidemic of 1918-19 from a speech made in May 2019 and considers the role of European leaders in a letter to the President of the Hellenic Republic in April 2020. These speeches are marked by the President's particular and personal stamp, while also expressing central concerns on behalf of Irish citizens. The speeches are enhanced by a Foreword written by President Michael D. Higgins.
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