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Farewell Address by Martin Territt, Director of the European Commission Representation in Ireland, Dublin, 28 September 2010
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Farewell Address by

Mr Martin Territt,

Director of the European Commission,

Representation in Ireland,

Dublin 28th September 2010

Martin Territt

Introduction

I am delighted that so many have joined us this evening for what is a rather special occasion.

We are here to mark the getting under way of Belgium's Presidency of the Council of the EU.

We are here to celebrate the first anniversary of the successful referendum on the Lisbon treaty.

Thirdly I will launch our latest exhibition, especially commissioned from 6 leading artists 'EU Street Art: Europe – a world of possibilities – street art views.'

And finally this reception also marks my own farewell as Director of the EC Representation in Ireland

But firstly I want to wish every success and best wish to my successor Barbara Nolan who takes over on 1st October. I hope that all of you will offer her the wonderful support and assistance that you have afforded to me.

Turning now to the Belgium presidency I want to extend every good wish to the Ambassador and Belgium over the coming months as it seeks to steer Europe towards better economic times.

One year on from Ireland's decisive decision at the 2nd Referendum, Belgium will play a key role, working with the European Parliament and the European Commission, in delivering the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty.

Please allow me a moment or two to reflect on the period of time devoted to the two referenda in Ireland on the Lisbon Treaty.

Personally speaking, the communications challenges, or opportunities if you will, during both periods were enormous.  And, suffice it to say, the right result prevailed!

Looking back there were low and high moments too numerous to recall now.

Above all, I have fond memories of working with many partners across civil society, government and political parties during those couple of years. I want to thank all them for their major contributions to the debates about the Treaty and for their support for the Representation in our communication on the Treaty.

I am particularly proud of the information and communication role we undertook here in the Representation, even if a commentator, on one occasion, accused me of "propagandising on behalf of the Lisbon Treaty in Ireland"

From this I take the satisfaction that our efforts in putting the facts about the Treaty and setting the record straight were getting through.

Looking ahead, I do not believe that it should be taken for granted that the Irish electorate would automatically sign up for any future Treaty change should such an opportunity present itself.

It therefore remains the case that we must not allow public debate about the EU and Ireland's membership of the EU to be confined just to times when faced with ratification of a new treaty.

That is too late. And history unfortunately proves this.

Rather, there is a compelling need to have a sustained approach to engaging with people on the EU and what it means for Ireland. I wish you all every success in this ongoing challenge.

Before I make a few closing remarks about my time here I want to unveil our latest exhibition which is designed to reach the audience that other communication tools cannot reach!

It is an idea that I have had in my mind for some time and I am glad that it is seeing the light of day just before I leave.

Graffiti Exhibition:

I invited 6 artists to produce a series of 12 panels illustrating their view of Europe today. Presenting a diverse range of current themes, the works are a reflection of thoughts from the street to the street.

The exhibition has been curated by Fiona Mulholland and it aims to look at common European themes in an uncommon way.

I wish to thank the artists concerned: Danleo, JOR, Mick Minogue, Will St Leger, ADW and Adrian et Shane.

One of the themes running through the artistic works is 'diversity,' reflecting the Union's motto 'United in Diversity.' I would make a plea on this occasion that in the future the motto be revised to encapsulate the value of 'tolerance,' fundamental to the rule of law, so that the motto would read: 'United in Diversity and Tolerance.'

Looking back it has been an eventful 5 years in the post, some events particularly rewarding, others less so – but all presented challenges that I have relished.

When I took up the job in 2005, the Sunday Business post described me as a  'career civil servant who had spent the last few years working in David Byrne's cabinet in Brussels, where I  had to worry about everything from bird flu to BSE.'

During my time here I am glad to say there has been neither bird flu nor mad cow disease to contend with. But there were many other issues, big and small.

For me it has been a privilege to lead the Commission Representation over the last 5 years.

While the two referenda were particular high points I am pleased to say that we embraced the EU communication challenge on a wide range of fronts.

After Lisbon 1 we launched a country wide Talk to Eu information campaign, including cinema ads, public meetings, development of a presence on social networking sites, competitions and other publicity.

We have taken up the challenge and opportunities presented by new media to communicate what the EU is doing.

And I can also say that we continue to develop our main website  euireland.ie which is well used as a valuable and trusted source of Union news and policies.

The European Public Space has been developed and now is well used by a wide variety of organisation interested in EU matters.

We have developed good links with many organisations throughout Ireland.

We have worked closely with Government departments and agreed a MoU on communicating Europe with the Dept of Foreign Affairs and the European Parliament Office.

We have extended our work in the education field and will continue to do so into the future.

We have devoted a lot of effort and time to working with the media.

In conclusion I would like to thank the Diplomatic community, Government departments, Irish civil servants and other stakeholders. I would like to pay a special tribute to my friends and colleagues working in the Representation, without whom we would not have achieved what we did.

Your collegiality and warm friendship will continue with me in pastures new! I would now ask you to raise a glass, 'To Europe.'




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