Taoiseach proud to welcome new citizens ‘home’

They arrived as citizens from 110 countries but all left as officially Irish.

More than 1,200 people took part in a citizenship ceremony in Dublin’s Cathal Brugha Barracks yesterday to start, in the Taoiseach’s words, a “new chapter in Irish history” by pledging fidelity to the nation and loyalty to the State.

“Your story will become Ireland’s story,” Enda Kenny said, telling his new fellow citizens they were “coming home”.

Administering the oath of fidelity, retired High Court judge Mr Justice Bryan McMahon said he hoped that the children or grandchildren of new Irish citizens would one day lead a team to All-Ireland victory, or carry an Irish flag at a future Olympic Games.

He urged them to embrace Irish games, music and language, but “do not forget the country from which you come or the culture of the people you come from”.

He asked those present to “bring with you your stories, your music, your dances and enrich our lives”.

Justice McMahon said: “I look forward to the day when one of your children, or one of your children’s children, lead a team out on the third Sunday of September into Croke Park, be it representing Mayo, Kerry or Dublin to win an All-Ireland.”

It was the 32nd ceremony of its kind since the rules changed to allow people to become citizens in an atmosphere of celebration — rather than in the district court as before.

The ceremony was the first of its kind to be attended by the Taoiseach, badly in need of some positive publicity after a rough start to 2012.

What better way to put his recent controversies behind him than sharing an event with people who were embarking on a new beginning and celebrating being part of this country instead of railing against it?

The Irish people, he said, “know deep inside ourselves what it’s like to be far away from home, to leave everything we have known and to make a new life in a new home”.

That home was now welcoming many, with 2,250 people taking part in citizenship ceremonies over yesterday and today. “The biggest citizenship invasion of Ireland in centuries,” as Mr Kenny put it.

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