It really is always, if I may say so ladies and gentleman, the greatest possible pleasure for my wife and I to visit this wonderful country. We enjoyed ourselves so much in County Galway and County Sligo last year that we simply had to come back!
We are particularly happy to come to Donegal, a place of dramatic and beautiful scenery, of music and story-telling, of myth, legend and the Irish language, and a place, of course, where the link between Man and the land is still so well understood. It is also a place of innovation and creativity, as the work of this Institute shows.
We are, ladies and gentlemen, so grateful for the warm Irish failte from Councillor Ciaran Brogan, Cathaoirleach (Chairman) of Donegal County Council and Paul Hanningan, President of the Letterkenny Institute of Technology.
I can only say that we have already had the most wonderful start to our day in the County, in Donegal town and look forward to seeing more this afternoon. Apart from anything else, it will be a special treat for me to visit Glebe House, the home of my old friend and artistic mentor, Derek Hill, who I know is so closely associated with this County and this Institute.
His love of Donegal is well-known. Perhaps his greatest contribution to local culture was his encouragement of the now world-famous Tory Island art. In fact, amongst quite a collection I have of his paintings, I have one or two that he did on Tory Island and he used to tell me an awful lot about it.
But ladies and gentlemen, as I mentioned in Sligo last year, the relationship between Britain and Ireland is now better than ever and the relationship between the communities on this island has changed fundamentally since the Peace Agreement of 1998. This is as evident here as anywhere. The border is of the merest consequence and County Donegal, County Derry or Londonderry and County Tyrone operate as a single economic entity, to the great benefit of their inhabitants. I can only applaud the people of all three counties for proving that it is possible for communities that had been divided for so long to overcome their differences and create a peaceful and prosperous life together.
I do so hope that the example you have set will be copied in other areas of the world that have suffered so much conflict.
Gabh raibh maith agaibh uilig go leir