Focail Scoir ón gCathaoirleach - Closing Remarks by the Cathaoirleach

I now invite my friend and colleague, the Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann, Senator Denis O'Donovan, to make his closing remarks.

Lord Mayor, Taoiseach, Ministers, fellow speakers, ambassadors, Members - current and former - of the Dáil and Seanad, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, as our ceremonial commemoration and this joint sitting of both Houses of the Oireachtas draw to a close, I wish to thank all our guests for joining us. I also thank all those participants - speakers, actors, musicians - who contributed so much to today's proceedings and who have enriched the occasion by bringing to life in very different ways three of the foundational texts of our modern parliamentary democracy. They have invoked through music, performance and reflection the national spirit that has sustained our democratic institutions for the past century. I hope that students of history and academics will continue to explore, reflect upon and promote these texts and the values and objectives that they espoused 100 years ago today. I hope also that we as a nation will always strive to live up to the high ideals and aspirations of the founding Members of the First Dáil Éireann.

Our commemoration today is one of a series of events which marks the decade of centenaries. One of the most important events of that decade was the formation of an Irish Parliament asserting the right to self-determination. It was a peaceful event that took place 100 years ago today and one that signalled the creation of the Irish sovereign democratic tradition. The establishment of the Dáil was followed, of course, by more violent and more divisive events, the reverberations of which echoed for many years through Irish society and Irish political life. Over the next few years, the State will commemorate the key events of the second half of the decade of centenaries in a tolerant, reflective and inclusive way, appropriate to our mature, self-confident and modern parliamentary democracy. I urge everybody to approach future commemorative events with an open heart and a learning mind.

What we who are privileged to be in this room today are saying to the Irish people is very simple: democracy in Ireland is alive and well; it is protected and cherished; it is worthy of celebration. However, it can never be taken for granted and must be constantly nurtured and refreshed in order that it can remain vibrant as we entrust it to the care of the next generation. Outside the doors of Leinster House and of this historic room, many young people are stepping forward to become the next generation of leaders and politicians. We applaud their spirit of public service and we know that, with them, we are in good hands.

Many people have worked hard behind the scenes to ensure the success of today's ceremonial commemoration. On behalf of the Members of both the Dáil and Seanad, I would like to thank sincerely all the designers, technical experts and other specialists who have worked so hard to ensure the success of this occasion. In particular, I must thank the staff of the Houses of the Oireachtas. Their contribution to today's proceedings and indeed to the work of our Houses of Parliament since their foundation deserves our gratitude.

Mar fhocal scoir, ó tharla go dtugann an comóradh seo inniu chun cuimhne dúinn gur institiúid pharlaiminteach, atá buan agus cobhsaí ó shin, an toradh a bhí ar thréimhse sa stair seo againne a bhí lán de choinbhleacht, tá súil agam gur ábhar dóchais agus iontaoibhe é sin do dhaoine eile arb é mian a gcroí é an saghas daonlathais atá againn in Éirinn a bhaint amach dóibh féin. Gabhaim buíochas libh agus guím gach rath oraibh.