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Scotland-Ireland relationship to strengthen in years ahead.
Scotland’s response to the vote to leave the EU will define the country for generations to come, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the upper house of the Irish Parliament today.
She made the remarks during a speech to the Seanad, marking the end of a two-day visit to Ireland to further political, economic and cultural links between Scotland and Ireland.
She said that the shared history between Scotland and Ireland had created inextricable links and a bond of mutual co-operation that a consequence of Brexit in Scotland was an even sharper focus on social justice.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Although we share more than a thousand years of history, I hope and believe that relations between Scotland and Ireland are now stronger, warmer and more harmonious than they have ever been.
“And of course these political, economic and cultural links draw strength from, and reinforce, the most important connection of all: the friendship and kinship which is shared by millions of Scottish and Irish people, across these islands and around the world.
“I believe that all of these ties will strengthen further – to our mutual benefit – in the years ahead.
“There is no doubt that the UK-wide vote to leave the EU was deeply unwelcome. For Scotland, as for Ireland, it creates a challenge which is not of our choosing.
“For Scotland, too, we know that how we - and indeed the UK as a whole - respond to June's vote will define us for generations to come.
“We can choose to turn inwards or we can choose to stand strong for the principles of an open economy and a progressive, liberal democracy.
“I choose the latter. But in doing so, I recognise that we mustn't just assert the benefits of these values - we must be able to demonstrate them.
“Ireland provides an interesting example. The decisions you took after 1958 to open your economy to the world were transformational. You are a wealthier, more open and more diverse society as a result.
“But recent years have demonstrated that all open, trading nations, and certainly including Scotland – need to ensure that growth is truly sustainable; that all parts of our society have a fair chance to contribute to it; and that everyone can fairly share the fair benefits it.
“There need be no contradiction between being an open, dynamic and competitive economy, and a fair, inclusive and welcoming society. In fact, what we are seeing around the world demonstrates that the two must go together – a fair society is essential, if we are to sustain support for an open economy.
“My hope is that Scotland and Ireland – sharing as we do an open heart for newcomers; and a faith in dialogue's power to move minds - will work even more closely together in the years ahead. And I hope we will make new works, new meanings, new impacts from our ancient ties and our shared values. If we do so, we can ensure that our small nations send a powerful signal to others. And we can bring benefits throughout these islands, across the continent, and maybe even around the world.”
A full text of the speech is available here: http://news.gov.scot/speeches-and-briefings/first-minister-address-to-seanad