The ties between Ireland and France “have never been so strong”, declared the Irish Prime Minister while welcoming French President Emmanuel Macron to Dublin.
Taoiseach Micheal Martin described the two nations as the “oldest and best friends” as he welcomed Mr Macron to government buildings.
Over lunch, the two discussed a wide range of issues, including Afghanistan, climate change and the EU’s response to the pandemic, in what the Taoiseach described as a “very warm and helpful ”.
He said: “France and Ireland are oldest and best friends.
“Ours is a friendship that has endured and evolved over the centuries. From the refuge offered to the French Huguenots in Ireland or to the wild geese in France; the inspiration that Irish Republicans drew from the French Revolution; to the rich cultural links, particularly in the field of literature, which we will mark today; In the nearly five decades of close partnership within the European Union, Ireland and France have stood together.
“The bonds between us are deep, and they have never been stronger.
“I am proud, Mr. President, to have this opportunity to celebrate them with you today. “
President Macron thanked the Taoiseach for his “warm welcome”.
He pledged that Ireland will always have the support of the EU when it comes to Brexit negotiations.
He said it was “not for France to pressure” Ireland over its corporate tax rate, but said Ireland should “take the lead” on the issue, highlighting the OECD recommendation for a minimum rate of 15% – against 12.5% for Ireland.
After the meeting, the two leaders wandered around Dublin, passing the Sweny Pharmacy, one of the locations of James Joyce’s novel Ulysses.
President Macron was welcomed to Ireland by President Michael D Higgins in Aras an Uachtarain.
Writing in the guestbook, Mr Macron said Ireland “holds a precious place at the heart of the European dream”.
He said France would “remain a staunch friend” of Ireland in the future.
He writes: “Because Ireland has constantly fought for peace, was a land of silence before becoming the land of hospitality, because its society was united and open, Ireland occupies a precious place in the world. heart of the European dream. .
“Your invitation today to meet the spirits who shape Ireland is a great honor and a source of inspiration.
“France is your closest neighbor within the European Union and will remain a faithful friend for the future. In confidence, Emmanuel Macron.
Mr. Macron arrived at around 10:30 a.m. on Thursday at the presidential residence in Phoenix Park in Dublin, accompanied by his wife Brigitte.
The two presidents discussed various topics, including the future of the European Union after Brexit, social Europe, Africa and the global Covid-19 vaccination program.
Climate change and the current situation in Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Haiti were also on the agenda.
A statement from Aras said: “The meeting builds on the very close and positive bilateral relations between the two countries, a partnership based on the shared European values of tolerance, respect for human rights and commitment. in favor of multilateral cooperation.
“President Higgins underlined his support for a social Europe and the need to develop new links between economics, ethics and ecology.
“President Higgins thanked President Macron for his continued support for Ireland, for our common ideals within the European Union and for France’s help towards our citizens in Afghanistan.
The Army Number One group of the Irish Defense Forces performed the Irish and French national anthems upon Mr. Macron’s arrival.
The two then left the garden of Aras an Uachtarain and took a gravel path, often laughing as they spoke at length in English.
Mr Higgins asked Mr Macron to ring the peace bell, which was inaugurated by former Irish President Mary McAleese to mark the 10th anniversary of the Good Friday deal.
Mr. Macron pulled three times on the blue satin cord and rang loudly.
Mr Higgins’ two dogs, Brod and Misneach, who have become somewhat famous in Ireland, then came bounding up to greet the couple.
Mr Higgins joked “he’s an experienced diplomat, he’s nine years old”, referring to Brod, the eldest of his two Bernese Mountain dogs.
He also told Mr Macron that Misneach means ‘courage’ in Irish.
Mr. Macron’s delegation included Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, European Affairs Minister Clément Beaune and French Ambassador to Ireland Vincent Guerend.
The president later visited Trinity College, where he toured the Long Library, before answering students’ questions and delivering a message of hope to those in attendance.
“When you listen to the news and listen to the experts, it can be not only disappointing but gloomy, and full of fears, threats, etc. But let me tell you that we are doing our best to meet these challenges.
“Sometimes we make mistakes, sometimes we make the right decisions.
“We do all of this to give you a place where you have the right to make your own decisions.
“But it is certain that your generation will have to face many challenges and it is quite unique in our common history. Don’t give up fears, just think of solutions.
“We will deliver, I’m sure. We always manage to find solutions, through science, through knowledge, cooperation, education.
“I don’t want a generation to be desperate because we have so many fears.
“There are so many challenges, but we have solutions, in human minds and hearts. “
Mr Macron also visited the Guinness Enterprise Center to meet Irish and French entrepreneurs based at the facility and discuss the impact the center has had on the development of the region.
He must then return to Aras an Uachtarain for a reception in his honor.
On the menu, presented in Irish and French, there was a Dublin Bay shrimp salad, pulled lobster, marinated beats, avocado and organic citrus arugula for a starter.
The main course was an organic Wicklow rack of lamb, an herb crust, celeriac and garlic potatoes, a choice of small vegetables, sweet port and a red berry sauce.
And for dessert, a Wexford strawberry mousse and passion fruit.