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#EuropeDay 2023 – A celebration of Ireland’s 50th Anniversary of joining the EU

Back from left are Liam Ward, Director of Community Development & Planning Services Donegal County Council,  Brendan Mooney, MC, Joy Browne, Senior Economic Development Officer,  Donegal County Council, Kevin McCaul, Europe Direct Letterkenny Manager, Garry Martin, Director of Economic Development, Emergency Services and Information Systems at Donegal County Council. Photo Clive Wasson


50 years ago, Ireland officially joined the European Economic Communuity, which would later become known as the European Union. May 9th, known as ‘EuropeDay’ is a celebration of peace and unity on the continent.


Donegal County Council, in collaboration with Europe Direct Letterkenny, celebrated #EuropeDay with a conference held in Mount Errigal Hotel, Letterkenny which was attended by more than 150 people from across the country. The conference was funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs under their EU50 funding initiative for Local Authorities and Europe Direct Letterkenny. MC for the day was Brendan Mooney from the Northern and Western Regional Assembly. The attendees heard from several keynote speakers throughout the day discussing and sharing their insights on 5 key EU prioirty areas including


  1. A smarter Europe.
  2. A greener, low-carbon Europe.
  3. A more connected Europe.
  4. A more social Europe.
  5. A Europe closer to citizens.


This one day event showcased the importance of Ireland’s membership in the European Union throughout the years, the national, regional and local impact of the initiatives and projects which significantly supported social and economic development.


Keynote speakers included Stephen Kinsella (Professor of Economics at the University of Limerick, Economist, and author of “Ireland in 2050: How we will be living”),  Emma Murtagh (Senior EU Programmes Manager at The Wheel), Katarzyna Kurzeja (Youth Information Officer, Donegal Youth Service) who discussed and shared their insights on the opportunities young people have now, and will have in the future,  to travel across Europe and experience new cultures and communities.


Video messages were played to the audience from MEP’s Chris McManus and Luke Ming Flannagan who shared their thoughts on #EuropeDay, the importance of the European Union to a country such as Ireland, and their hopes for the future of Ireland’s involvement. MEP Colm Markey also participated in a live discussion with several young local  people about the supports available from the EU and advice for future policy-makers and politicians in the audience. Maria Walsh MEP also held a remote video call from Strasbourg with Scoil Mhuire in Buncrana Library.


Professor Hugh Frazer (Former Coordinator of the European Social Poicy Network), Joleen Kuyper Machado (New Communities Mamager, DLDC) and Paul Kernan (Intercultural Platform), discussed the importance of inclusivity and how the development of social policy at EU level is essentail for a sustainable, peaceful and inclusive future for all EU citizens. Olivia Jones (Clean Coasts Coordinator for the North West Region) and Emeritus Professor John Sweeney (Maynooth University) provided thought provoking presentations on how local action can impact environmental policies and what global climate change affects Donegal and the North West region.


The event was closed with a beautiful acapella performance from the New Land Choir. The Choir is based in Donegal and is made up of members from several different countries, cultures, backgrounds and languages who are united by their love of music and culture.