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Africa Day Address by Minister of State Ciaran Cannon T.D.

Céad mile fáilte roimh go léir chuig Lá na hAifrice. Tá áthas an domhain orm bheith anseo chun Lá na hAifrice a cheiliúradh libh.

Good Afternoon. I am delighted to welcome you to Farmleigh to celebrate Africa Day. It is wonderful to see such diversity and richness of African culture and traditions on display.

Some of you have been regular attendees to the Africa Day celebrations organised by Irish Aid. For others, including me, this year is your first opportunity to be directly involved. Since my appointment as Minister for International Development almost a year ago, my time has been filled with many rich moments and a great number of new experiences including three rewarding trips to Africa.

I would in particular like to take this opportunity to welcome the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations of the Kingdom of Lesotho, Lesego Makgothi [Le-se-ho Ma-poh-ti] to Farmleigh for this year’s Africa Day celebrations. This is an excellent opportunity to witness firsthand the many connections Ireland shares with friends and communities across Africa.

As Ireland’s Minister for the Diaspora and International Development, I have had the opportunity to experience the many development, business and cultural links between Africa and Ireland over the past year. I have also had the opportunity to visit Africa on a number of occasions, and witness some of these partnerships in person.

I am particularly proud of Ireland’s development assistance programme, Irish Aid, which works with African governments and civil society to support fair and sustainable developments. Irish Aid’s investments in education, health, social protection and governance have made a huge difference to the lives of many Africans.

There are also increasing trade and business links between Ireland and the African continent. There is enormous potential for these links to be strengthened, and I look forward to working with my African counterparts to ensure this happens. It is wonderful to see a number of African business and community groups present today, and I understand this year there are more groups represented here than ever before.

Today is an excellent opportunity to continue to grow and develop the many links between Ireland and Africa. In what can seem like an increasingly divided world, it is especially important to have events like these, when we come together and celebrate our different cultures and traditions in a spirit of openness and curiosity.

I know there are many other events to mark Africa Day around the country too – from Galway to Wexford, Meath to Limerick and Cork to Kilkenny and Waterford. It is great to see so many communities across Ireland coming together to share in the celebrations of Africa Day.

Finally, I wish to place on record my appreciation for the generous support and inputs that we receive from our colleagues at the Office of Public Works, An Garda Síochána, Dublin Bus, DHR Communications, the resident African Embassies and all who are involved in helping to make it a safe and enjoyable day for all concerned.

I wish you all a most enjoyable afternoon. Thank you.

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