EU50 inaugural Iveagh House lecture with Michel Barnier

5 October 2022
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence, Simon Coveney TD and Michel Barnier

On Wednesday 28th September, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence, TD welcomed Michel Barnier to the inuagural EU50 Iveagh House Lecture. Mr Barnier delivered a lecture on “A European perspective on Ireland’s membership of the European Union”.

Michel Barnier speaking at a podium in a building with marble walls, and an Irish flag in the background.
Michel Barnier

“[In] 1972 the people of Ireland – part of an independent Republic - massively

voted to take part in the European project.

I was 21 at the time, a young Gaullist militant.

France had a referendum on the accession of Ireland, the United

Kingdom, Denmark and Norway.

It was my first ever vote - and my first campaign!

Despite the reluctance in my party over the accession of the

United Kingdom, I strongly campaigned for the Yes Vote.

The roots of my European commitment, of my relationship

with Ireland (and that of the UK), lie in that campaign – in the

days and weeks I spent in the streets of my home region – Savoy -

in convincing those who might have been in doubt about you and

the UK joining the EU.

I have always felt it is possible to be both « Patriotic &

European ». Bringing together both identities – showing that they

can be respectful towards one another. Being European in addition

to being Irish or being French.

I have always looked back on this vote with pride and without


Michel Barnier arriving at Iveagh House and being greeted by Minister Simon Coveney
Michel Barnier and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney TD.

The EU50 Iveagh House series is part of the Department of Foreign Affairs' ongoing series of Iveagh House commemorative lectures held since 2012 at the Department’s headquarters at Iveagh House in Dublin. Each lecture recalls a significant event in our history or current affairs, not as an end in itself, but as a starting point for reflection on the future.

A series of EU50 themed lectures during 2022-2023 will feature high level speakers who have held, or currently hold, leadership roles in the European Union or on European Union matters.

Simon Coveney speaking on a podium in a ballroom with the Irish, EU and French flags behind him, while Michel Barnier sits on stage beside the podium.
Minister Simon Coveney TD speaking at the event.