German ambassador claims ‘new dynamism’ in Irish-German relations
Ambassador takes part in wreath-laying during service to commemorate the 1,192 Wicklow men who died in the first World War
Woodenbridge World War 1 Memorial Park’s Jerry O’Brien and German ambassador to Ireland Deike Potzel during wreath-laying at the garden. Photograph: Garry O’Neill
Ms Potzel was the keynote speaker at the annual Armistice Day commemoration in Woodenbridge World War One Memorial Park in Co Wicklow on Sunday.
Speaking after the service, Ms Potzel said Germany was working hard to deepen bilateral relations having recognised a need to work more closely with its partners, including Ireland, due to Brexit.
“With Brexit, Ireland is reaching out more towards Germany,” she said, “but we also realised in the course of Brexit that we need to work more closely with like-minded partners in the EU. Ireland is one of the countries that we feel is very like-minded and that we share a lot of convictions and ideas for the future.”
Referring to the Joint Action Plan for Enhanced Co-operation signed between the two countries in 2018, Ms Potzel said it had “a lot of concrete proposals where we can work together” adding “I’m also very happy to see so many Germans coming over [to Ireland] as tourists. There are so many different levels of links and it’s great to see that.”
Ms Potzel continued: “Clearly there is some new dynamism in our bilateral relationship, if we can make use of it. It is really in our hands. I think we can be much more closely linked.
“You have this famous saying in Ireland that ‘Boston is closer than Berlin’. But if you look at the map it’s not, and we can work together to make it a reality that Berlin is closer to Dublin than Boston.”
Ms Potzel also took part in a wreath-laying ceremony during the annual service which commemorates the 1,192 men from Co Wicklow who died during the first World War.
“I think it is extremely important to commemorate together,” Ms Potzel said. “As I said in the speech, to really remember the lost lives, tragedy and horrors of the war in order to work together so it cannot happen again.
“I feel, as a German, it is still an honour to be invited to these events. I don’t take it for granted. It’s not something we expect, and we are very grateful to have the chance to be here together with the other nations and to be invited by the Irish friends.”
Over 200 people gathered at the Woodenbridge World War 1 Memorial Park, which is on the site where John Redmond, then leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party, made a speech on September 20th, 1914, encouraging Irishmen to volunteer for the British army.
Other guests at the service included former Irish military personnel, and French and British representatives, including the British ambassador to Ireland Robin Barnett.