It is an absolute honour to be here today.
Glor Na Mona is an organisation I greatly admire, a steadfast provider of services for the Irish Language community in the Upper Springfield.
The drive and determination to achieve this way back in 2004 is immeasurable and your achievements thereafter.
I believe today should also be about looking back, I mean, what you have achieved is phenomenal. Today should be about Applauding all those people who made this happen.
Having the vision can be the easy part, it is getting the other foundations in place to fulfil that vision which prove more challenging.
I want to say this Our City is founded on a bedrock of volunteering. Community groups, development activities, societal improvement would not happen without our volunteers, fact.
This is one of those places where that is so apparent.
Your commitment, ingenuity and dedication shown to form the organisation, programmes and facilities is astounding.
From 2009 the organisation diversified to meet local community need. Expanding your portfolio to provide Irish Medium Youth Work.
Again, another ground breaking reach out that has resulted in a membership of hundreds and 5 night provision. Young people can avail of a diverse package of programmes to reflect their needs. In fact, young people determine that programme directly.
My own background is in community work.
I understand how hard a journey it can be to get started yes, but to keep going at times is even harder.
I believe society needs to get better at measuring and valuing the benefits of locally driven development work. This work is about self determination, about communities visioning their future and working collectively to achieve that.
So I am in awe of just how much you have achieved here at Glor Na Mona. Youth work, education, connecting to local natural sites, music the list goes on. All of that and an annual programme of festivals.
I know this years festival is packed to the rafters.
Historical tours, lectures and discussions, film-showings, cemetery tours, project and research launches.
I noted you will also be launching a new youth project for young people with learning needs and holding events to support local refugees. Therein lies the essence of this organiation,
Participation, Politics and Community and A Welcome for All people.
I want to also thank all the young people for making this place so vibrant, for your activism and for never losing your voices.
To those young people your participation is driving the wider renewal of the area and of our Belfast.
(The facilities here are fantastic, but your usage rates and nightly attendance clearly indicate a need for facilities growth.
The demand is in place for a flagship Irish medium community facility, the organsiation demonstrated that in the recent large scale survey and sustained consultation. The location is clear and 98 percent support the project. It is time for those voices to be listened to by support agencies).
Glor Na Mona continues to diversify, establishing a network right across our Beautiful city, taking on a leadership role and driving forward a rights based agenda. Thank you for this.
I noticed Dáithí featured in your brochures. I had the pleasure of meeting the man himself. We have just passed the anniversary of his beloved grandmother Frances.
Frances must have been so proud of her wider family, the strides made in organ donation awareness and directly leading to a change in legislation.
So, I thank Máirtín, Seph and of course Dáithí, not forgetting his adorable new sibling.
Having met them one thing stood out to me, humble courage. A lovely, determined, brave family.
Similar to the Family here at Gor Na Mona. Brave, determined.
Please have a wonderful festival and thank you so very much for everything you have achieved and everything you will.