Kenny pledges to reclaim 'hard won' future Collins foresaw for Ireland
TAOISEACH ENDA Kenny yesterday pledged the Government would not rest until Ireland has reclaimed its economic sovereignty and achieved the future for it envisaged by Michael Collins more than 90 years ago.
Mr Kenny told the 90th annual Béal na mBláth commemoration he was certain Collins would have approved of the restructuring programme embarked upon by the Government to regain economic sovereignty.
“Here at Béal na mBláth, as Taoiseach, I give you my word that I will not rest, our Government will not rest, until Ireland has reclaimed and restored its economic sovereignty,” Mr Kenny said. “We will not cease in our painstaking, quiet but persuasive endeavours until Ireland has re-established the economic independence, so precious, so hard won, which is its right and its due.”
The first serving Taoiseach to deliver the oration at Béal na mBláth, Mr Kenny recalled the dark days of August 1922 when, following the death of Arthur Griffith, Collins was “assassinated here in the dust of west Cork, whence he came”.
He recalled the challenges faced by Collins as minister for finance and said he and his Government were as determined to resolve the current economic crisis as Collins had been to solve the financial crisis he faced then.
“In keeping with Collins’s ambition, mental force and ideals, as Taoiseach, I refuse to allow what is in reality a temporary, hand-me-down financial straitjacket and damage what will be a magnificent future for our country, our people and our children’s children.”
Collins was a doer, a pragmatist and an unfailing optimist, said Mr Kenny as he quoted Collins’s prescription for economic success based on exporting quality goods on time – “the pursuit of excellence”. “That pursuit of excellence involves honesty, respect, ethics, passion, compassion, leadership, responsibility – the very qualities we will need to re-evaluate, rehabilitate and re-establish at the heart of our Government, our economy and our society.”
Mr Kenny said Collins knew instinctively the value and fragility of public trust and recognised the need to keep faith with people and how vital it was to make difficult and sometimes impossible decisions. “With our reform agenda, we too are making difficult decisions, we’re respecting public trust, we’re keeping faith with people – through radical legislation, we’re tackling political corruption.
“Through our Constitutional Convention, Irish citizens and politicians from both North and South will come together to discuss constitutional reform – a new concept in our county – something of which Collins would approve.”
Mr Kenny said he believed Collins would also be proud of the reconciliation that has taken place between Britain and Ireland, as evidenced last year when the Queen honoured those who had died for Irish freedom.
“We will shortly begin a decade of national commemorations – the Dublin Lockout, the Easter Rising, the first World War, the War of Independence, the Treaty, the Civil War and many others, North and South.
“It is the firm intention of the Government that the official commemoration of each and all of these milestones in our history will be generous and insightful, inclusive and dignified,” he said. “But the life and death of Mícheál Ó Coileáin will not just be commemorated, it will be celebrated, and it will be cherished not alone in public ceremonies but in the quietness of people’s homes, the stillness of Irish hearts wherever they may be across the world.”
Mr Kenny pledged Ireland would mark the centenary of Collins by rededicating “ourselves to the Collins ideals of self-determination, the pursuit of excellence, the celebration of, in Collins’s words’ ‘Ireland’s light, our nation’s difference’. We will have reclaimed our economic sovereignty, we will have exercised our right, our hard-won freedom, to enter into the fullness of who and what we can become as the Irish nation.”