Dublin, 21 April 2017: Minister for Education and Skills, Minister Richard Bruton TD, was the keynote speaker at a lecture to honour the legacy of the late Michael Sweetman, one of twelve leading Irish businessmen who tragically lost their lives in the Staines Air Disaster on 18 June 1972.
Nearly 100 friends, family, former colleagues and members of European Movement Ireland attended the memorial lecture, with guests including former President Mary Robinson. Guests also heard from Liam Connellan, Chair of the Michael Sweetman Educational Trust, and Michael’s widow, Barbara Sweetman FitzGerald.
At Friday’s event, Minister Bruton said that the late Michael Sweetman was among the political thinkers who sought a new Ireland in the late 1960s, which was based on enterprise and fairness. “Michael Sweetman recognised that the European Union offered a huge opportunity for Ireland to shed many of the shackles of its past and to allow us build an economy on a very different basis, one based on enterprise, innovation and exports. He also recognised the compelling need to match our economic innovation with the vision of a just society,” Minister Bruton said.
Liam Connellan, Chair of the Michael Sweetman Educational Trust paid tribute to the legacy of Michael Sweetman who believed that “in learning to live with the other peoples of Europe, we in Ireland will learn to live at peace with each other”.
Executive Director of European Movement Ireland, Noelle O Connell, recalled that this year’s memorial lecture was particularly poignant as 2017 marks the 45th anniversary of the referendum on Ireland’s EEC membership as well as marking 45 years since the tragic Staines Air disaster.
“We must pay tribute to the work of the Michael Sweetman Educational Trust, which continues to honour Michael’s memory through engaging with Leaving Certificate Applied students in Education Training Board Schools, Colleges and Centres throughout the country. European Movement Ireland remains committed to the mission and values that characterised it from the time when Michael was its Executive Director, namely developing the connection between Ireland and Europe.”