Ireland’s most celebrated national holiday, St. Patrick Day, is marked worldwide with parades, parties and shows of vibrant Irish culture, music and dance. It is time we can reflect onIreland’s longstanding relationship with Ethiopia, which can be traced back to 1936, when our then Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Eamonnde Valeramade a statement at the League of Nations strongly supporting Ethiopia’s sovereignty. Near the altar of Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa, amid the wonderful religious iconography, is a portrait depicting the session of the League of Nations. The focus of the picture is an address by Emperor Haile Selassie, appealing for help against the occupation of his country. In the background, preparing to voice his strong support, is De Valera.

Irish singer Bob Geldof built on this historical legacy in helping to raise millions of pounds for Ethiopia through the single Do they Know It's Christmas and his international Live Aid concerts in 1985. Geldof’s powers of persuasion helped to make Ethiopia and its challenges more real and important in Ireland and across the world.

The opening of Ireland’s Embassy in Addis Ababa in 1994 facilitated a significant increase in our bilateral engagement and development cooperation, with health, climate-smart livelihoods and social protection emerging as longstanding priorities. In the following yearsthe relationship with Ethiopia has developed and now covers a broader range of diplomatic, development cooperation, cultural and trade relations, with a strong focus on gender equality and humanitarian action.

When former Irish President Mary Robinson visited Ethiopia in 2016, she called on the international community to live up to its responsibility to reduce emissions as climate change continues to impact most seriously on the most vulnerable people. In a strongly worded statement Mrs Robinson reiterated, “Climate change impacts will continue to undermine development gains and increase the vulnerability of people to natural disasters. Therefore the international community has a duty to reduce emissions and support resilience and adaptation efforts in the hardest hit communities.”

The visit by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in 2019, and his meeting with the Prime Minister and President, saw a deepening of political ties between Ireland and Ethiopia. Visits to Ireland by Ethiopian officials have highlighted an interest in sharing experiences and the potential to grow government-to-government and business links. Saint Patricks Day reminds us that we have so much that joins us, the love of our country, the preservation of our environment, the development of our people and the importance of renewing our relationships to work together for a brighter future.

PUBLISHED ON Mar 13,2023 [ VOL 23 , NO 1194]

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