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Taoiseach Micheal Martin greeting President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, outside Government Buildings today. Leah Farrell

Ursula von der Leyen thanks Irish people for their support in welcoming Ukrainian refugees

Von der Leyen will also address a joint sitting of the Houses of the Oireachtas.

LAST UPDATE | 1 Dec 2022

EU COMMISSION PRESIDENT Ursula von der Leyen has thanked the Irish people for their “outstanding” support in welcoming Ukrainian refugees.

Speaking on the steps of Government Buildings in Dublin, von der Leyen said:

“I want to personally thank you [Micheál Martin] for the excellent cooperation we had in the last two and a half years.

“These were very eventful years indeed. As you said, first of all the pandemic.

“You have steered very skilfully, Ireland through the pandemic and out of the pandemic, and I highly appreciate how you’ve always been a strong supporter of our vaccine strategy,” she said.

She said the Irish Government has present an excellent national recovery resilience plan.

“I want to thank the Irish people, for opening their hearts and their homes to Ukrainian refugee. This is outstanding. I want to thank you for the strong support for Ukraine to become a candidate Member of the European Union,” she said. 

The Taoiseach paid tribute to the European Commission president, Martin said that he is looking forward to discussing the many challenges the EU faces and its commitment to finding shared solutions.

“I want to pay tribute to the leadership of the president over the last number of years, particularly during the pandemic, the war on Ukraine and managing the energy crisis that has resulted from that,” Martin said.

“We will discuss today how we can continue to make real our unequivocal support for the people of Ukraine, as they face into a very cold and difficult and winter and face the ravages of a terrible, immoral and illegal war. Of course, we will discuss the energy crisis, the slowing global economy.

“But above all, knowing the President’s strong commitment to intensifying the green transition, we will discuss that and of course, our relationship with like minded countries like the United States and the United Kingdom. We will discuss the ongoing situation in terms of the Northern Ireland protocol.

“We appreciate the solidarity that has been shown. But of course, we all want to have a constructive and solid relationship with our neighbours, the United Kingdom. So that will form the basis of our discussions today as we mark 50 years of Ireland’s transformative membership with the European Union,” he said. 

von der Leyen said that, if there is the political will from the British Government, then she is “very confident” a positive conclusion will be reached in the Brexit discussions.

She said that the EU and Ireland has always had very close cooperation on Brexit matters.

“It was ironclad and is ironclad, and this is so important,” she added. “I know that Brexit meant a lot of adaptation for Ireland, but you have done this very successfully as far as I can see it.

“We, the European Union has been listening very carefully to the concerns of people and businesses in Northern Ireland what the issues of the protocol is concerned.

“We have always shown flexibility, we will always have a constructive approach to these issues.

“If there is the political will in the UK, I am very confident that we can reach a positive conclusion. So thank you very much for inviting me and I’m looking forward to this day here in Ireland.”

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