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Irish ambassador visits campus

Maddie Hanna | Monday, October 4, 2004

Irish ambassador to the United States Noel Fahey spoke of the importance of maintaining good relations between Ireland, the European Union and the United States in an address at McKenna Hall Friday.

Members of the Notre Dame community listened to Fahey optimistically evaluate international relations.

“We cannot be complacent when the stakes are very high, but as we go forward, I think we can conclude that our relationship is very strong, but we can make it stronger,” Fahey said.

Fahey also stressed the importance of protecting the relationship between Ireland and the United States,

“It is essential that we ensure this partnership be respected, nurtured [and] enhanced,” he said.

Fahey acknowledged the problems that arise when countries differ in opinion, but felt the future relationships between the United States and Europe were promising.

“We can discuss issues on which we have differences, but in a way that doesn’t undermine the relationship,” he said. “There will always be divisions, times when countries have to act in their own best interests, but that should not stop partners from trying to coordinate.”

Fahey also praised Ireland’s six-month term as president of the European Union, a position that rotates among member states.

“We had, dare I say it, a very good presidency,” Fahey said.

According to Fahey, during Ireland’s presidency, several important events occurred, specifically, the addition of 10 countries to the European Union and the completion of a new constitution for Europe.

In addition to these events, Ireland’s presidency oversaw close relationships with the United States on a cultural level and a family level, Fahey said.

While 2003 was a period of unprecedented strain between Europe and the United States, based on Iraq, the Middle East peace process and the European Union summit was very effective, Fahey said.

“At the end of our presidency in June, our prime minister and President Bush stood before the media and declared one of the most successful European Union summits ever held,” Fahey said.

During the presidency, seven declarations were produced, Fahey said. These concerned ways to work towards peace in the Middle East, help people in Iran, counter terrorism, strengthen economic partnership, prevent weapons of mass destruction, aid the humanitarian crisis in Sudan and combat diseases like AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.

Fahey also discussed the “sloppy generalizations and dangerous stereotyping” that sometimes arise, saying many Europeans have misconceptions of Americans as “inward looking, chronically uninformed and self-interested.”

However, Fahey stressed unity, noting the shared set of core values and the economic interdependence linking Europe, Ireland and the United States.

And Fahey believes both Europe and the U.S. need to put effort into maintaining a close relationship.

“Trust has been restored, but our relationship must be viewed as a work in process,” he said. “There is more to be done. Europe has to speak more clearly about international affairs and act decisively.”