French and Irish leaders focus on EU, economy and climate
Ireland/bilateral relations/European Union/COP21 – Statements by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, at his joint press conference with the Prime Minister of Ireland (excerpts)
Paris, 3 September 2015
Ladies and gentlemen, I hosted a meeting – and it was the third time – with the Prime Minister of Ireland, Enda Kenny; I’ve forged a relationship of friendship with him through our participation on the European Council, which has brought us closer on the major issues. Our two countries are linked by history, and whenever there have been testing times, Ireland and France has always come together. (…)
Yes, Ireland sets an example, and it was important once again for the Irish Prime Minister to be here today. He was here on 11 January after terrorist acts that are in everyone’s memory, when he once again showed his solidarity. I myself am aware there will be some very important commemorations in Ireland in 2016: [the centenaries of] the uprising that enabled Ireland to be what it is today and also the participation by Ireland, or rather Irish people, in the British forces of the time, to come to our territory – particularly the Somme –, take action alongside us and contribute to our own independence and freedom.
We also talked about several subjects that concern us, Ireland and France, particularly at economic level, because Ireland has shown that in the space of a few years it’s been capable – even though it was, according to the term, “under programme” – of experiencing growth and stability, as it is now. And French businesses have also set themselves up there; the Irish Prime Minister will be meeting them in Lyon in a few hours’ time. Irish businesses also have a presence in France. Again, he’s met them to encourage them to invest even more.
Since Manuel Valls’ visit to Ireland, we’ve also had cooperation on renewable energy, research, biotechnology and tourism, and we want to broaden further these exchanges and investments.
At cultural level, our two countries also share a desire to exchange students and researchers and also ensure we can increase the number of cultural events. (…)
Finally, we discussed three other subjects.
The first subject was Britain’s initiative on its membership of the European Union. I share the same principles as the Irish Prime Minister. Discussions must begin. We must ensure the United Kingdom can remain in the European Union, but on the basis of the fundamental treaties we know. I’ll also have the opportunity to discuss this with David Cameron at the end of September.
We discussed a second subject: Economic and Monetary Union. Ireland belongs to the Euro Area. Ireland played a role alongside us to ensure we could find the right solutions with Greece, and I thank Enda Kenny again for it.
Finally, we discussed a third subject especially close to our hearts: the Climate Conference. Again, Ireland’s support – its president was in France a few weeks ago – is extremely important – and we regard it as such – in order to persuade people, still persuade them how urgent it is to reach an agreement in Paris.
Today, circumstances led us to recall principles, uphold values and suggest mechanisms to shoulder our responsibility in the face of tragedies. Those tragedies didn’t arise today. Those tragedies are intolerable today. (…).