Consul General of Ireland in Scotland
REFLECTING on the past 12 months, we can all be proud of how the Irish community in Scotland have come together in varied ways, assisting those who are vulnerable and nurturing community spirit in Scotland.
It has been magnificent to see our community groups adapting to the online world, from online Gaeilge classes and gatherings organised by Conradh na Gaeilge Glaschú and Little Ireland Arts Collective, to the fantastic range of business, social and networking events hosted by Causeway: Ireland Scotland Business Exchange. I have heard wonderful stories of the online musical melodies created by members of Comhaltas Ceoiltoirí Éireann branches across Scotland during class time. During lockdown, I was particularly thrilled to see champion dancer David Geaney’s video showcase of talent in the Irish dancing community in Scotland, for first ever International Irish Dance Day in September.
Though we share the disappointment of Scotland GAA who could not see out their season on the pitch, we should all applaud the organisation for being a pillar of support and collectiveness within and beyond their membership, during a year like no other. The GAA spirit helped our communities stay connected while apart, promoted positive mental health messaging, and kept children active and healthy throughout the year.
I offer a huge thank you to those of you who engaged with the joint bilateral review of relations between Scotland and Ireland during the year. The response to our public questionnaire was hugely positive and exceeded our expectations. Opinions and information submitted through both the questionnaire and our consultations have been very valuable to the overall work of the review, our joint report on which we hope to publish very shortly, after inevitable delays due to Covid-19.
At the end of this difficult this year, when we may not be able to come together as we have before for the festive period, connecting with our loved ones is now even more important. It has been really special to receive artwork from the children of Scotland reflecting what this Christmas will mean to them, and to use the winning entry in our competition as the Christmas card of the Consulate General.
I am delighted to share a Christmas message from our Minister for the Diaspora to the Irish community in Scotland. As we close one difficult year and look forward to the next, in which some now familiar difficulties will continue, we will have the benefit in Scotland of celebrating not just the spirits of both Brigid and St Patrick, but the shared Irish and Scottish legacy of Colmcille, or Columba—something to look forward to.
Nollaig shona dhaoibh, go léir.