Gnó an tSeanaid - Business of Seanad

Today is Spain's national day. Ireland's shares a common past and a centuries long friendship, which goes all the way back to the 16th century with the Treaty of Dingle which was signed in 1529. Through our shared history there has been a constant flow of Irish people to Spain, from medieval pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago through to the many Irish who found refuge in Spain at the time of the Flight of the Earls. The many Irish colleges founded during that period helped not only to preserve the distinct cultural identity but also facilitated Ireland's engagement in the wider world.

There is an increasing number of Irish citizens resident in Spain, estimated at 40,000, and as many as 2.3 million Irish people visit Spain every year, and more than 20,000 Spaniards live in Ireland.

Spain is the fifth largest market into Ireland in terms of visitor numbers. For decades Spain has been Ireland's second largest EU market for English language training. This connection has seen many prominent figures in public life from Spain visit Ireland, including its Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, who spent time in Ireland during his adolescence. I wish the ambassador, Mr. Castro, and all the Spanish people in Ireland a happy national day.