Minister of State in the Department of the Taoiseach and the Department of Foreign Affairs with responsibility for EU Affairs, Thomas Byrne, T.D., represented the Irish Government at a virtual celebration event entitled “A Call for Freedom in Languages” hosted by the Bangladesh High Commission, London, on Monday 8 March 2021.
Speaking at the event, Minster Byrne said:
The oration delivered fifty years ago, on 7 March 1971, by the Founding Father of Bangladesh, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was a signal moment in your country’s path to independence. Its global significance and outstanding universal value has been recognised by UNESCO which has included the speech in its Memory of the World Register.
The translation into Irish of the precious words of this historic speech bring us closer to the spirit of Bangladesh, as expressed by your Founding Father. It is poignant that this event is taking place during Seachtain na Gaeilge. Language is an intrinsic part of who we are and the Irish language was central to Ireland’s struggle for independence. The speech of 1971, which has now been translated into Irish, is for Bangladesh what the 1916 Proclamation is for Ireland.
The event celebrated the unveiling of the Irish, Scottish and Welsh translations of the UNESCO Memory of the World International Register enlisted historic “7th March Speech” by the Founding Father of Bangladesh, Bangabandhu. The 19-minute speech by Bangabandhu was delivered to millions of Bengalis in Dhaka on 7 March 1971, calling for the independence of Bangladesh.
Noting the connections between Ireland and Bangladesh, Minister Byrne concluded:
Both of our countries achieved their current statehood through conflict hard fought in hopes of a better life for our people. As we celebrate today, we must also reflect that we share a responsibility to the generations past, and the generations to come, to make the improvements hoped for a reality.
9 March 2021
Notes to Editor:
- Diplomatic relations between Bangladesh and Ireland were established in 1972, shortly after Bangladesh gained independence.
- The Bangladesh High Commissioner, Her Excellency Saida Muna Tasneem, is the non-resident Ambassador to Ireland.
- Bangladesh High Commission in London arranged this virtual Commemorative event on the occasion of unveiling of the Irish, Scottish and Welsh translations of the 7th March Speech as part of the centenary celebrations of the birth year of the Founding Father of Bangladesh.
- Attendees at the event included Bangladesh High Commissioner Her Excellency Saida Muna Tasneem; Minister for Cultural Affairs of Bangladesh, Mr. K M Khalid MP; First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford; Former Director General of the UNESCO Ms. Irina Bokova; Members of British Parliament, Members of Scottish Parliament and academicians and language experts from England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland at the event.
- The translation into Irish was overseen by Dr. Eoin Mac Cárthaigh, Head of the Department of Irish and Celtic Studies, Trinity College Dublin, who participated in the event.