Henry Grattan Lecture 2017: Mario Draghi, President ECB

Edmund Burke Theatre

22nd September


Good morning,

And welcome everybody to the Edmund Burke Theatre in Trinity College Dublin for the Henry Grattan Lecture.

This lecture series is a flagship initiative of Trinity’s School of Social Sciences and Philosophy. Over the past six years, since the lectures were founded in 2012, they have brought to Trinity leading politicians, economists and public figures, engaging with vital contemporary issues. Our College community and the wider public in Dublin have benefitted hugely from the articulation and debate of such central issues.

A word on the title. Henry Grattan is a Trinity alumnus and the only Irish politician to enjoy the accolade of having a phase of parliamentary history named for him. ‘Grattan’s parliament’ operated, as many of you will know, from 1782 to 1800, just outside these walls - in College Green, in what was then the Irish parliament, now the Bank of Ireland.

Grattan is famous as a constitutional parliamentarian, who rejected extremism but was vigorous in his demands for legislative independence, and for extending the definition of the political ‘nation’ to include Catholics. He expressed these views with clarity and passion – his famous oratorical skills were first honed in our college debating society, the Hist. He was a pragmatist and a superb communicator who threw himself into the vital issues of the day – his is a worthy name to be evoking in these lectures.

The Henry Grattan Lectures invite an influential public figure to address contemporary issues. There has been, from the start, a strong focus on European issues: the inaugural lecture, in 2012, given by Joschka Fischer, had the provocative title: ‘The End of the European Project?’ – but with a question mark. In subsequent years, speakers have included such well-known Europeans as Peter Sutherland and David O’Sullivan, speaking on migration and on EU-US relations respectively. And just a few months ago, John Bruton gave a Henry Grattan lecture in the Embassy of Ireland in London on the Political Consequences of Brexit.

And there has also been a strong focus on economics, with Patrick Honohan giving the 2016 lecture on the Irish economy since independence.

Collectively, then, these lectures amount to a vital and incisive look at major EU and Irish issues, by people directly involved, in a crucial period for Europe.

Today’s speaker continues in the tradition that has developed. Mario Draghi is, of course, the President of the European Central Bank, a role he has held since 2011; previously he was Governor of the Bank of Italy. As such, he has never been out of the news this past decade; he is among the world’s most important leaders, and it’s an absolute honour to welcome him here today.

I thank the Central Bank of Ireland and European Central Bank teams for collaborating so closely with the Trinity team, to make this visit happen. And I thank Mario Draghi for making the time. I know that he is to be honoured later by an award from our Student Debating Society, the University Philosophical Society. It’s tremendously exciting for students and staff to welcome Mr Draghi to campus and we’re delighted also that we can open this important lecture to the wider public.


Ladies and Gentlemen, to talk on

‘Youth Unemployment in the Euro area’,

please welcome the President of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi.

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