The Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan TD welcomed 355 new Irish citizens at a citizenship ceremony hosted by the University of Limerick on Monday.
Speaking at the ceremony Minister Flanagan said "It is a great honour for me to be here today to welcome our newest citizens. It is very fitting that one of my first official duties as Minister for Justice and Equality is to attend a citizenship ceremony. Becoming a citizen goes to the very essence of our democracy and constitutional principles, principles which as Minister for Justice and Equality I have the honour to uphold."
Welcoming the country's newest citizens Minister Flanagan said: "The ceremony today is of course a joyous occasion for our new citizens but it is also a day of celebration for our nation. Ireland has sent our people abroad to the furthest corners of the world and it is important that as an open, inclusive society that we welcome those who seek to become Irish citizens.The people who are here today have made Ireland their home. They are our neighbours, our friends, our work mates who have enriched our culture by bringing their own unique traditions with them".
Minister Flanagan acknowledged and thanked the University of Limerick for hosting this event and highlighted the importance of bringing ceremonies to different parts of the country "As a rural TD I am delighted that these ceremonies have been brought to different parts of the country and this is something that I will continue in my time as Minister. I would like to thank President Fitzgerald of UL for hosting the ceremony today which is of great credit to this institution".
At the ceremony it was announced that UL has been designated a University of Sanctuary in recognition of its initiatives welcoming asylum seekers and refugees into its university community. Speaking at the citizenship ceremony, President of UL, Dr Des Fitzgerald said: “In being designated as a University of Sanctuary, UL has committed to a three-year action plan to promote access and to integrate those from a refugee and asylum background into third level education."
The University of Sanctuary Award will be presented to Dr Fitzgerald at an event in UL on United Nations World Refugee Day, Tuesday, June 20,