… human dignity and freedom are not finite resources, that the more you parcel them out the less you have yourself. In fact, the more you parcel them out, the more enhanced your dignity and liberty are.
(Daniel O’ Connell, 19th century Irish leader, as quoted in The Queen of Ireland).
We wish to thank the Irish Ambassador for his patronage and participation in the screening of The Queen of Ireland, to mark IDAHOT and Luxembourg Diversity Day. It was a successful screening and debate, we found it motivating to see the strength of an individual and Irish civil society to influence change. We are pleased to publish Ambassador Carpenter’s introductory speech (by courtesy of the Ambassador).
On 22 May 2015 Ireland became the first country in the world to agree the introduction of full marriage equality by way of a referendum, with a 2 to 1 majority in favour.
Ireland was, and is, often seen as a small conservative country, however, the modern Ireland of today is far removed from the Ireland of the 60’s and 70’s.
Some of you may be aware that a revolution occurred in Ireland during Easter in 1916. The Easter Proclamation which was read out at this time stated that the Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities, and cherishing all the children of the nation equally. All very noble however, it is difficult to reconcile this with some of the legislation later enacted!
This shows a rapid pace of change in a country in a period of about 20 years. These changes are a potent symbol of a modern and inclusive Ireland that we have today. Change does not just happen, it must be made to happen and we were extremely lucky to have many people who were able to express the very real human stories, including Panti, to share their stories of fear, rejection and oppression.
We hope that by showing the Irish story that others can be inspired to face up to discrimination.
I suppose that there are many instances where we can see at a particular moment, a tipping point, in how a nation views a certain topic.
In Ireland I believe this point was arrived at when the campaign to amend the Constitution was launched. This led to many conversations within families, parents and children, grannies and grand-daughters and between friends. It became clear very quickly that the referendum would be carried by a large majority.
Around this time I was speaking on the telephone to my son in Dublin and I asked him what the mood was in regard to the referendum. He said that it was simply seen by most people to be unfair to discriminate against people who just wanted the same right as everyone else, no one loses anything by giving this right to others, it is about fairness. Maybe sometimes we should insist on simple tests such as fairness to decide on how we approach a great many issues.
I would wish to thank Time for Equality and in particular Rosa and Karen for the invitation to speak to you this evening. I hope you all enjoy the film and draw strength to continue with the fight for equality and human rights across Europe and across the world.
Ambassador Carpenter became Ambassador of Ireland to Luxembourg in August 2014. He joined the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as a Higher Executive Officer in 1991 and has since served in Consular Section, Minister of State’s Office for Overseas Aid, Minister of State’s Office for EU Affairs, Management Services, and Anglo-Irish Division. Prior to arriving in Luxembourg, Ambassador Carpenter served for six years as Director of Consular Division in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.