President Metsola honoured with the Gold Medal of Honorary Patronage for her outstanding contribution to politics 


The President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola has been awarded the Gold Medal of Honorary Patronage by The University Philosophical Society of Trinity College. Addressing students of the college, President Metsola encouraged young people to change the world.

Dear Provost,
Dear President,
Dear “Phil” members,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is such an honour for me to be greeted by the University Philosophical Society of Trinity College - the world's oldest student society. One that has included outstanding contributors to the world of arts and culture, across three hundred and thirty seven years of history.

I am so proud to be elected by your Council to receive the Gold Medal of Honorary Patronage this year, which I graciously accept on behalf of the European Parliament - an institution that is there to be your voice. And this recognition gives me faith, that the actions that we have carried out in the last year are worthy of your trust.

I will do my utmost to continue to repay your faith.
Go raibh maith agaibh.
This award gives renewed impetus to push ahead in championing European values of freedom, democracy, equality and justice - that we all hold dear.

Values that - perhaps too often - we have taken for granted. Values that are under threat. Values that people in Ukraine are forced to fight for.

I am in Ireland to celebrate with you, 50 years of Ireland’s European Union membership.
The story of Ireland’s 50 years in Europe is a story of positive transformation and success. It has been a win-win. EU membership has brought enormous economic and societal benefits for both the EU and Ireland.

It is immensely rewarding to know that it was the will on the Irish people, that led Ireland to join what was then the European Economic Community in 1973. And today still, an overwhelming majority of Irish people support the EU project. Because they know that: together we are stronger and together we stand taller to address today’s geo-political turmoil, today’s economic challenges and today’s climate emergency.

And here, now in front of you, let me re-affirm that politics is the way we can meet the challenges of our generation. It is the best way for positive change in communities and societies. The only way for real lasting change. I’m an eternal optimist - maybe that’s why I feel at home in Ireland - but throughout the ups and downs of a career in politics, I know that it is a noble cause. At its most basic level, it is about doing what you can to make your neighbours’ lives a little bit better, a little bit fairer, a little bit more just, a little bit safer.
So my appeal to you today is to find your voice, find your cause and fight for it. Vote. Believe.

Choosing a career in politics was one of the best decisions of my life. I remember my family being quite shocked at my decision to post-pone my end of year university exams to run in the European election in 2004. But then again, my mother had always told me: “if you want change, stop complaining and make it happen”.  I ran in that 2004 election, and then I did go back to sit my exams in September. I was not elected that time, but I never gave up.

After 50 years, Ireland is an established EU member state. Other European countries stand to learn : from how Ireland leads, from Ireland’s transformation from net-financial-beneficiary, to net EU-budget-contributor and policy-influencer.

That’s the beauty of politics. My decision to enter public service 20 years ago, went hand-in-hand with my country joining the European Union.

It came from a generational aspiration that: “We can change our world for the better”. And also that “We cannot afford: not to be part of it”.
Of course, we knew that the European Union has its imperfections. It still does. I still get angry at the little things that seem to make little sense. At the things that get the headlines instead of the great work done every day.

But we believed in the hope of Europe. In making the dream reality. We believed then and I believe still.

I speak to students in different countries often. Wherever I go, I always want to meet with you.

I make the point that politics is a worthy cause. But it is not an easy one. You need a thick skin, a strong sense of justice and a lot of luck. And being a woman in politics does not make it any easier.

I have been a Member of the European Parliament for 10 years, a President for one. It is tough. This was meant to be our year of recovery, of economic resurgence. Instead, 6 weeks after I took office as President, we faced a war on our continent. Priorities shift.  

I’m not here to tell you that politics is easy. I’m here to tell, you it is worth it.

I’m here to tell you to get involved. Get involved in politics, in your communities, in doing what you can, to stay true to the ideals that you believe in.                                      

Russia’s illegal war on Ukraine shook our foundations to the core. By invading a sovereign, independent country, the Kremlin rejected our rules-based world order. That is why it is so important to stand with Ukraine. We will not leave Ukraine alone to fight a war for our common values. This is what I told President Zelenskyy in Kyiv when I visited the Ukrainian Parliament a few weeks after the invasion.

Upon Ireland joining Europe in 1973, Ireland’s then Taoiseach, Jack Lynch said: “It is conceivable that Europe and the world would have been spared two devastating wars, that we would have not have had the division of Europe into two blocks”... if, he added... the leaders at in the seats of power at the beginning of the 20th century “had been endowed with the same vision, the same dedication to peace, and the same sense of community” as the founders of the European project.

Values matter. And with a war on our continent, we must hold our values of justice, democracy and equality up high. We must support Ukraine in every way that we can.

We have what it takes to fashion a better future for ourselves in Europe, when we believe in our capacity to stand tall.

One thing concerns me still. It is the fact that women in leadership positions are still under represented in most places, including in Irish politics.

Recent Decade of Centenaries State commemorations in Ireland have highlighted the causes that women still have to fight for in the 21st century, to bring equality to all aspects of Irish women’s lives.

Already, Ireland has a new unique national holiday - the first Irish public holiday named after a woman, St Brigid’s Day honours front-line care workers and women. It marks the return of Light and Hope.

And yesterday on the first day of February, the first day of Spring, the first women scholars went on display in the university's Old Library, in the form of four new statues.
The busts of scientist Rosalind Franklin, theatre-founder Augusta Gregory, mathematician Ada Lovelace and women's rights advocate Mary Wollstonecraft lead the way.

Times are changing because we are listening and including all voices in society and politics.

Because people believe. Because people get involved. Because people like you roll up their sleeves and change the world.

Change the world.
If you don’t do it, someone else will for you.

Thank you.

You can read President Metsola's speech in Irish here.