Remarks by Enda Kenny at the Free Iran World Summit 2021 on 12 July 2021


Enda Kenny, former Prime Minister of Ireland

Thank you. Thank you, Madame. I speak here as a private citizen and not on behalf of the Irish government. I’ve never been to Iran. I do not speak Persian or Arabic, or any of the regional languages of your great country. I condemn terrorism, state terrorism or any other terrorism on equivocally. And stand by the rule of law and the Democratic Republic that I live in, and that I had the honor to lead on two successive occasions. That means, like the Swedish former prime minister pointed out, that our people have freedom of speech, the rise of peaceful protest, the right to join political parties, the right to vote independently, and the right to practice their religious beliefs. As a small country in the northwestern age of the European Union, 5 million people but with a diaspora of over 60 million globally, we were a country that was under the rule of the British governments for 700 years and a Republic that has just been formed for 100 years following a civil war. A matter of fact, the Irish people, through successive governments, built institutions of the state, introduced the Constitution, which has been changed on many occasions by independence and referendums of the people. And we take our place as one of the foremost members of the European Union for many years. It doesn’t mean that democracies are not without challenges or problems, and in our country, for instance, we have had two outstanding women presidents elected independently by the people, one of whom later became the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations. The Chief Justice of our Supreme Court was a woman, served there for a number of years, the Attorney General was the one. We’ve had ministers in government, who served as outstanding ministers and are women. Because the rise of equality in the range of treatment of women was an issue that was very challenging in Ireland, and still is in some respects.

So, you may ever wonder what a small country like Ireland could offer a huge country like Iran and the many challenges that face the Iranian people. We have learned lessons from our history that apply across all countries. We too have a diaspora interested in its homeland, interested in helping people in their home country, and our connections in the United States have reached directly to the White House on a number of occasions, and we’ve built global connections to the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day on every March the 17th. In the same way as the Iranian celebrations of Nowruz. You might know The Canon of Medicine written by Avicenna, the outstanding Persian physician, scientist and philosopher of the Islamic Golden Age, was translated into the Gaelic language or the Irish language in medieval times, and was used in medical instruction in European universities until the 17th century. You might also like to know that Professor Hormoz Farhat who was the founder of the Tehran University of Music, and one of Iran’s famous composers was also the chair of the music faculty in Trinity College in Dublin for many years, and introduced Irish students to Iranian music to a non-prevalent degree.

Iran closed our embassy in Tehran in 2012 for a variety of reasons. That embassy would be reopened in the next period ahead and Iran wishes to have good relations with Iran and the Iranian people. We’re also the facilitator, having been elected onto the Security Council of resolution 2231 of the Security Council of the UN dealing with the overseeing of the implementation of the 2015 deal on the Iranian nuclear program. But Ireland’s interest in this goes back as far as 1958, because at that time, an Irish Minister for external affairs or foreign affairs, Minister Aiken, had put forward a proposition of the United Nations about the dangers of nuclear weapons and nuclear armaments. He followed that with further resolutions in 1960 and continued with this work until December 4, 1961 when the United Nations unanimously, not by consensus, accepted the Irish resolution on how to deal with nuclear weapons and nuclear armaments, which later became the non-proliferation treaty. So, when I see all of those things in the connections between Ireland and Iran, and then I read the Amnesty International report for 2021 dealing with Iran, it says that the authorities heavily suppressed the rights of freedom of expression, association and assembly, security Forces used unlawful force to crush protests, the authorities continued to arbitrarily detain hundreds of protesters, dissidents and human rights defenders, and sentenced many to imprisonment, and flogging women, as well as religious minorities faced extended discrimination and violence, and forced disappearances, torture, and other ill treatments were committed with impunity on widespread and systematic basis. Judicial corporal punishments, amounting to torture, including floggings and amputations were imposed. Fair trial rights were systematically violated. The death penalty was used as a weapon of political repression. Executions were carried out, one in public and some others in secret and those executed intuitively at the time of the crime. The authorities continued to commit crimes against humanity by systematically concealing the face of hundreds and several thousands political dissidents forcibly disappearing and extrajudicially executed in secret in 1988. We cannot stand for this.

Democracies take a long time to get the truth and the rule of law to be implemented. For instance, in 1972. in Derry in Northern Ireland, British paratroopers opened fire and civil rights marchers were unarmed, conducting a peaceful march. It took until 2010 before the inquiry into that was concluded and the British Prime Minister apologized formally in the House of Commons about something that should never have happened, the instructions of which should never have been given. And on 9th of August in 1971, in Belfast in Northern Ireland, British paratroopers opened fire on innocent people. 10 people died. It took 50 years in the democracy, 50 years to have a coroner’s inquest declare that all of those who were involved, who were killed by the paratroopers concerned, were completely innocent and unarmed. So, if the ayatollah has set out its five-part program of having a revolution in Islamic state, in Islamic government, in Islamic Society, and in Islamic civilization, that is not going to change overnight, and will not be forced from outside. But what can happen from outside is that the United Nations can do more, the European Council can do more, the Council of Europe can do more, the governments who deal with Iran can consistently raised the question of human rights of floggings, of disappearances, of executions, and the denial of the rise that we take for granted in this country here.

This is not without its challenges, and the Revolution and the state not having been put in place and in Islamic government through the appointment of a president by the Supreme Leader and the Council of Guardians means a continuation of autocracy to the difficulties and challenges for the Iranian people. This is a situation where a people who want to be free, want to be democratic, want to practice the things that we all take for granted or denied the right to do so. So, the diaspora abroad, the United Nations, the European Council, the Council of Europe, and every government doing business with Iran, it’s got to consistently raise the question of human rights, the infringement of those rights by this autocratic government. And as representative Borrell pointed out, we will not allow a situation like that to go on, not talked about, not discussed, and left to drift, because the situation for your people in Iran is far too serious. We had a long struggle in our country to get to where we are. The Iranian people are not being allowed to develop to their potential. The cradle of civilization of mathematics, of literature, of arts and music deserves to be allowed to do better. And that change can only continue to come when the voice of the people rises up and says, “We will not tolerate this situation anymore.” In that perspective, Ireland and the world will stand with the Iranian people.

Thank you very much.