Return and ‘be the best’ at home, Kenny tells young Irish in US

Irish ‘particularly attuned’ to EU migrant crisis, Taoiseach says in Connecticut speech

At Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut, Taoiseach Enda  Kenny said Ireland is particularly attuned to the current migrant crisis in Europe, given our history of emigration. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

At Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Ireland is particularly attuned to the current migrant crisis in Europe, given our history of emigration. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has called on younger people who emigrated during the economic crisis to return to Ireland to “be the best at home in their own country”.

Speaking on Thursday at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut, Mr Kenny said Ireland is particularly attuned to the current migrant crisis in Europe, given our history of emigration.

The Taoiseach was presented with an honorary doctorate by the university and spoke at a conferring ceremony on Thursday evening.

“In terms of our recent emigrants, our loss was America’s gain,” Mr Kenny said. “But today we want our young people to come home because they and their children are our future. And we want them to have the best and be the best at home in their own country. Something that even today is denied to so many.”

Particularly attuned

Mr Kenny, who earlier this week attended an EU summit aimed at dealing with the migrant crisis, added: “Given our history, Ireland is particularly attuned to the experiences of the men, women and children currently seeking refuge in Europe.

“In our generational memory, we know what it is like to flee, to be forced to leave everything and start anew with new people in a new place.

“We know what it is like not alone to seek refuge but to long for a kind look, a kind word, recognition of our dignity, our shared humanity.

“Ireland is working with the EU to make sure we help as many of these people as possible. We cannot and we will not look away.

“Already our naval vessels are on rescue missions in the Mediterranean. Across our country there was been an outpouring of compassion and practical help.

“These are people motivated not by cheap sentimentality but by real sentiment, sentiment that recognises in men, women and children that we are quite literally ‘kind’.

‘Hope and comfort’

“That is why at zones of conflict across the world it is an Irish hand that keeps the peace. It is why in areas of famine, it is an Irish voice that brings hope and comfort.”

The Taoiseach also visited the Great Hunger famine museum at Quinnipiac University.

Mr Kenny’s visit to the university museum, which houses the largest collection of famine artwork in the world, comes ahead of his address to the UN general assembly in New York later today.

The museum houses a number of sculptures such as pieces by Rowan Gillespie and paintings such as Derrynane by Jack B Yeats, one of two pieces by the artist on display in Quinnipiac.

Quinnipiac University president John Lahey said the majority of the museum’s collection will tour Ireland for six to nine months in 2018.

The intention is to have two-thirds of the paintings currently in the museum in Quinnipac University visit Dublin Castle, the West Cork Arts Centre in Skibbereen and a yet to be decided venue in Northern Ireland, likely to be in either Belfast or Omagh.