On June 29th I was honored to be elected as the Cathaoirleach of the 26th Seanad by my fellow Senators. As the first person from Kerry and second youngest of the Cathaoirligh since the foundation of the State, this is a great privilege.
The honor is enhanced given the fact that my term as Cathaoirleach will coincide with the 100th anniversary of Seanad Éireann. The position, role and responsibilities of Cathaoirleach is one of the few of those in the State described in our Constitution. These responsibilities are wide and varied, and include being the sole judge of order in the Seanad.
The Cathaoirleach is also a member of the Council of State and part of the Presidential Commission. On the Presidential Commission I am joined by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Éireann. In the absence of the President, the Commission takes over certain matters in relation to the exercise and performance by the President of his powers and functions. I will of course continue to work hard on behalf of all people on local and national issues.
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There are 8 days left to be part of the St. Patricks Day Anthem challenge! Bishopstown Community School are asking teachers & students to learn to perform the National Anthem in #Irishsignlanguage Email performances to ISLAnthem@bishopstown-cs.ie before March 10th to enter Visit https://bishopstowncs.ie/isl-national-anthem for more
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A Chairde, This year we are inviting all teachers & students to take part in the St Patricks Day Primary School Challenge. The Challenge asks schools and their pupils to learn and perform the National Anthem in Irish sign language, the language of our deaf citizens.
Irish Sign Language is the third official language of our country after English and Irish. ISL is used by the 50,000 members of the deaf community here in Ireland. Some of you may be unaware but there is also an ISL version of our national anthem Amhrán na bhFiann.
This fantastic initiative is being led by Bishopstown Community School in Cork who I previously worked with during the Seanad Éireann Public Consultation on the National Anthem back in 2018. The school develop the signed version of our anthem, and have produced an excellent resources pack on their website which includes a detailed teachers pack and accompanying tutorial videos (one of which is attached below). Visit https://www.bishopstowncs.ie/isl-national-anthem. to find out more.
It would be wonderful to see as many schools as possible take part in this initiative. The prizes for the best performance includes a VIP class Tour of Leinster House and a certificate to the winning class from each county.
To enter please email your class or schools performance to ISLAnthem@bishopstown-cs.ie, or get in touch to find out more. The deadline for submissions is Friday March 12th so be sure to have your performances sent in before then. I hope you’ll step up to the challenge.
“Chestit praznik”! The 3rd of March is Bulgarian Liberation Day, which marks the date of the national liberation and restauration of the Bulgarian State from the Ottoman Empire in 1878.
Despite coming from opposite sides of Europe, we share similarities and historical connections. In fact, two Irishmen Pierce O’Mahony and James Bourchier made individual contributions to the establishment of the Bulgarian State in its early days.
2020 also marked the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Ireland and Bulgaria.
On behalf of Seanad Éireann we would like to wish Ambassador Karadjova and the more than 4,000 Bulgarians living in Ireland a happy Liberation Day.
Estonian Independence is the 24th of February so I would like to wish all Estonian people, especially the 3,000 Estonians living in Ireland, a very happy Independence Day. The day celebrates the declaration of an Independent Estonia on February 24th, 1918, just eleven months before the sitting of the first Dáil.
As nations we share a common identity, with Estonia becoming a member of the European Union on May 1st, 2004 and working with us as a fellow non-permanent member of the UN Security Council until June 2022.
Our countries also share a love of culture, particularly music and literature. A statue of Oscar Wilde alongside Estonia’s literary icon Eduard Vilde stands in Tartu, the countries University Capital. A replica of this statue was gifted to the people of Galway upon Estonia joining the EU back in 2004. Estonian is also now being taught in Irish schools and can be taken as a Leaving Cert subject.
2021 marks 30 years since the beginning of diplomatic relations between Ireland and the Republic of Estonia and Ambassador Aino Lepik von Wirén was appointed back in 2018. I would like to wish the Ambassador, all Estonians, the Estonian people living in Ireland and the Irish people living in Estonia a very happy Independence Day. Head vabariigi aastapäeva.
Saturday the 20th of February marked UN Mother languages day. Mar a dúirt Pádraig Mac Piarais “Tír gan teanga tír gan anam” “A country without a language is a country without a soul”.
The Irish language is an integral part of our culture and who we are as a people. Initiatives such as this serve as reminder of the importance in supporting our mother language and it’s significance to our history and our people.
The UN has indicated that early childhood years are crucial in developing language skills and on the back of this initiative we are encouraging parents, teachers and all people to use more Gaeilge where possible and promote our mother language.