BaileNuachtAithisc an Taoisigh

Speech by the Taoiseach Mr. Enda Kenny TD, Launch of Action Plan for Education, St. Brigid’s Convent School, Cork Street, Dublin 8, Thursday 15 September 2016


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Dia dhaoibh ar maidin.

I’m delighted to be here, thank you for inviting me. We meet here today, in the heart of the Liberties, and the heart of history itself. Because on this very day in 1254 the great Italian explorer Marco Polo was born. Now some of you probably know about Marco Polo – how he set off from Venice for Beijing, met the Kubla Khan, gave us stories of the Silk Road.

How old was he when he began his travels? He was a teenager. 17.
Today he might be doing work experience in Transition Year. Instead, Marco was discovering ancient worlds, writing down their stories for us.
But Marco Polo’s birthday 762 years ago is only like last week compared to the history that you’re part of.

Yes. Because we meet today near one of the ancient roads of Ireland.
The Sli Dala.
One of the five major roads linking Tara, where our kings and queens lived, with the rest of Ireland.

Supposedly these roads were first observed the night a certain boy was born.
He was Conn Cead Cathach – Conn of the Hundred Battles.King of Ireland between the year 125 and 145. Now close your eyes.
Imagine Conn and every single person who passed along this road in the almost 2,000 years since.

Did any of them ever think there’d be a school here and all of you in it?

Now, open your eyes.

Look at the person either side of you and know that every day of your life, you’re part of that history. Every day you’re the link in the human chain that connects the past to the future. And where will that future take you?

To Beijing like our friend Marco Polo? Or maybe down to Trinity College? Or to the NCAD?
I know you have a great relationship with the NCAD. I see it in the terrific art work that’s so important to the St Brigid’s family.

That’s what our Action Plan for Education is all about – building bridges and relationships between schools and communities. It’s also about other things like say.. ambition, belief, every one of you here reaching your potential.

Education comes from the Latin word Educere – to lead. With this plan we want to lead you on a journey of discovery, where you find your gifts, be the person you want to be in the world.

A doctor? A teacher? A vet? A business woman? A politician? A writer? A musician?

Or maybe an astronaut on the space station – looking down on what we hope will still be our Blue Planet – wondering ‘what are they doing now in St Brigid’s 53 degrees North, minus six degrees West’? As your Taoiseach, I have your dreams here in my hands. But I have them too in my heart.

Which is why I’m working hard to make sure communities across this city can live their dreams. And you know, Dr Who is not the only one who can or must regenerate. Communities, society can too.

That’s why just across the river, I launched the North East Inner City Ministerial Taskforce. It’s a complicated name for people working together to make life in their area better. We’ve had a few meetings and they’ve loads of ideas about what they want to do.

But this morning, the government has loads of ideas about what we want to do for you and with you.We want to turn your schools into lighthouses. Don’t worry - not literally.

My Granddad lived in a lighthouse. Every morning, he opened his door onto the whole Atlantic Ocean. His neighbours were birds and fish. Sometimes dolphins. Even whales. From his door, his nearest human neighbour was thousands of miles away, in America.
Every night, even in terrible storms, he would shine his light to make made sure people at sea were safe, they could continue on their journey.

And with this action plan, I see our schools as lighthouses.

Because they keep the light of learning, of leading, of giving you your chance, keeping you on your journey. Your parents or your granny or grandad might say to you, ‘oh I’d love to have gone to college, only I never had the chance. But you’ll go though.’

And they’re right. Because with this action plan you will. You’ll get your chance and plenty more. Adults and politicians – not always the same thing - call this ‘breaking the cycle of disadvantage’. A fancy way of saying we want you to be the best you can be. We’re shining the light. The government wants you to love school.

To do well here. We want you to reach your potential. We want you to be a brilliant student or an apprentice. And when you leave school, we want you to get a really good job or think up a really cool invention, or set up your own business.

How does that sound? Because for us, you and your education are our number one priority. We want you to be able to see and own the world.
Right from your very first steps here on the Sli Dala.

So, say it with me
On your marks, get set, Go!