Prime Minister of Ireland visits QU

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Staff Reports

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By Thamar Bailey, Tara O’Neill, Julia Perkins and Sarah Doiron

The prime minister or taoiseach of Ireland visited Quinnipiac on Sept. 24 to receive an honorary degree of humane letters, presented by Vice President and Provost Mark Thompson.

Enda Kenny was recognized in the Mount Carmel Auditorium for his dedication and service to people all around the world.

“He has been a passionate defender of the rights of others whether in Ireland, the United States, Africa or the European Union,” President John Lahey said.

While visiting Quinnipiac, Kenny toured Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum on Whitney Avenue with Lahey. Irish media outlets were also in attendance as well as secret service agents, according to Vice President for Public Relations John Morgan.

After visiting the museum, Kenny said that the university keeps the memory and hope alive for those in a similar situation to the people who suffered through the Great Hunger.

“The institute here—which is a brilliant, brilliant institute—keeps the flame of the memory of those people alive,” Kenny said.

Lahey recognized Kenny for many of his accomplishments, especially his work to improve Ireland’s economy.  

During Kenny’s time as Prime Minister, Ireland was in one of its most trying economic situations. To alleviate the problem, Kenny “slashed” his salary, raised taxes and cut government services. As a result, Ireland has the fastest growing economy in the European Union, according to Lahey.

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Even with these economic struggles, Kenny worked to help those less fortunate.

“Even while Ireland was going through its most severe economic crisis, you did not forget the poor, the dispossessed and the immigrants,” Lahey said.

Kenny explained that forced migration is a topic Ireland is very familiar with.

“We know what it is like to have to flee, to leave your own place, to leave your own home, to be forced to leave everything and start again… with a new people in a new place,” Kenny said, “We know what it’s like not only to seek refuge, but to long for a kind look, a kind word, recognition of our dignity.”

In addition to extending a helping hand for refugees, Kenny has another mission, which he intends to work with the United Nations, to achieve through collaboration with the United Nations.

On Sept. 25, Kenny will address the United Nations General Assembly to discuss the creation of the new Sustainable Development Goals, which are the frameworks the world will use to work to destroy poverty.

“[This will be the] first opportunity—of any generation—to end poverty and the last opportunity, probably—of any generation—to attempt to save the planet,” Kenny said.

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