Irish-German relations 'excellent'

 

Ireland and Germany have an excellent relationship within the common home of the European Union, the Minister for Education said today.

Citing the German word for friendship - "freundschaft" - Ruairí Quinn told a Goethe-Institut Irland audience in Dublin: "Ireland and Germany have enjoyed an excellent long-standing political and economic relationship, and culture, mutual trust and common values have always been at the core of our relations."

Opening a conference on contemporary German-Irish cultural relations, Mr Quinn noted the German-Irish Chamber of Industry had recently marked 30 years of existence, and over that time had created a "multitude" of business partnerships and investment projects.

Looking further back, the Minister said there was a very special relationship in particular with Siemens that dated from the Free State. "When the first hydro-electric Shannon scheme was established, it was a very deliberate decision, a very cultural assertion of separation from London, to invite Siemens to provide technical assistance," Mr Quinn said.

The Minister added there was a mutual aspect to this relationship as Siemens staff said their role in the Shannon project was an "extraordinary recognition" of their excellence in an Anglophone sphere that it had not previously not penetrated.

Discussing the shared cultural values between the countries, Mr Quinn pointed out it was a German academic's research on the grammar of ancient Irish that unlocked the key to the Irish language, "for which we are eternally grateful".

Closing his speech, the Minister quoted the old Irish saying of "ní neart go cur le chéile" or "strength comes through working together".

The conference, which runs today and tomorrow, is examining a number of cultural issues relating to the two countries within a European context, including language learning and policy and opportunities for cultural policy in times of economic crisis.

The event is organised by the Centre of German-Irish studies at the University of Limerick and the Goethe-Institut.