Gnó an tSeanaid - Business of Seanad

Before I call on the Leader to outline the Order of Business, it is proper that we acknowledge the national day of one of our EU colleagues. Latvia declared independence on 18 November 1918, after centuries of a turmoiled history. As two small European countries that have struggled for independence in those early years of the 20th century, we always share a historical connection. The Latvian-born Charles Peterson and his nephew Conrad Peterson were active participants in the struggle for independence. The office of the first President of Ireland in 1921 was, for a time, located in the family home of Charles Peterson. His famous pipes, patented by Charles Peterson, are still manufactured in Ireland and known all over the world.

This year is a particularly special year in the relationship between Ireland and Latvia. Ireland had never recognised Soviet power in Latvia. Thirty years ago this year, on 27 August 1991, Ireland along with our fellow European Community, EC, members, recognised the restoration of independence in Latvia. On 9 October that year, the then Minister for Foreign Affairs, Gerard Collins, visited Latvia to formally establish diplomatic relationships between our two countries for the first time. There are 30,000 Latvians living in Ireland. The Latvian diaspora in Ireland is active and well integrated. Ireland and Latvia share a view that language is a treasure and that safeguarding language is hard and never-ending work. On 18 November, today, one of Dublin’s symbols, the Samuel Beckett Bridge will be illuminated in the colours of Latvia, red, white and red, in celebration of Latvian national day. Today, we celebrate those growing links and look forward to our future together as part of the European family. To Ambassador Jnis Slis and to all Latvians, including those living in Ireland, happy Proclamation Day of the Republic of Latvia. Saules mžu Latvijai. I hope that was a good pronunciation.

I call on the Leader to outline the Order of Business.

Bualadh bos, a Chathaoirligh.