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Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 23 Mar 2022

Vol. 283 No. 11

Gnó an tSeanaid - Business of Seanad

Before we come to the Order of Business, on behalf of the Cathaoirleach and all Members, I wish to recognise the national day of Greece. I welcome to the Distinguished Visitors Gallery, the deputy ambassador of Greece to Ireland, Ms Polina Chotzoglou, who is representing the ambassador, who sadly has a family bereavement and cannot be with us.

We are grateful to the people and country of Greece for their contribution to the world, not only for giving us the meaning and idea of democracy but also for the very word itself. Like others in the Chamber, I spent many years in education and Greece was the original home of the best of educational theory and practice.

Last year, Greece celebrated the 200th anniversary of the beginning of its war of independence. Among those who fought in that struggle was General Richard Church from County Cork, who led the Greek army in the later stages of the war. He became a Greek citizen and a Greek senator. Many more Irish heroes also played a role in the Greek cause, such as Sir Hudson Lowe from Galway, Edward Blaquière, a romantic Dublin seaman of Huguenot descent, and Charles James Napier from Celbridge, County Kildare.

There are long and profound connections between Ireland and Greece. Today more than 5,000 Greeks live in Ireland. The Hellenic Community of Ireland was established in 1964 and runs the Greek School in Dublin which is accredited and regulated by the Greek Ministry of Education with 150 children and adult students, including many Irish.

James Joyce was profoundly influenced by Greek literature, language, mythology and philosophy. Joyce insisted that the cover of Ulysses be printed in the colours of the Greek flag and requested that wherever Ulysses is published it should have a blue cover.

Books were being printed in Greek in Dublin a century before the printing press came to Athens. Dublin is a major centre for Greek studies internationally and is home to the earliest copy of what is surely the world's most influential book: The Four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, written in Greek and now the greatest treasure of the Chester Beatty Library here in Dublin.

Last year, 2021, also marked the 40th anniversary of Greece's membership of the European Union and the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Ireland and Greece. I am sure all Senators will join me in wishing the Greek people living in Ireland and throughout the world a happy independence day. With apologies to proper linguists, this is my greeting in Greek.

I wish them a happy independence day. I have got a nod of approval from the distinguished visitor in the Gallery which I will interpret as meaning my pronunciation was accurate. Whatever about the linguistics, we wish them a happy independence day and recognise our great friendship

I invite the Deputy Leader to announce the Order of Business.