President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins launches European Year for Development 2015 in Ireland

22 january 2015

NGOs present 12-month series of events and a host of inspiring change makers from around the country

At a ceremony in Dublin Castle today, President Michael D. Higgins formally launched the European Year for Development aimed at celebrating the many ways in which people in Ireland are working to build a better world.



“2015 presents us with both huge challenges and opportunities. It will require brave and wise decisions from world leaders. It will also require vigilance and activism among Ireland’s NGO workers, parliamentarians, public intellectuals, academics, and beyond, to ensure that our policies are sourced in global welfare and that our policy-makers deliver on their promises,” said President Michael D Higgins, in his keynote address at the launch of the European Year for Development in Dublin Castle this afternoon.  

Over 200 attended the official Irish launch ceremony for the European Year for Development 2015 in Dublin Castle this afternoon, as people from all areas of Irish life came together to celebrate the important work being done at home and abroad by organisations, businesses and ordinary people.

“2015 is a year that will shape the future of humanity, as world leaders will decide on new strategies to fight climate change, hunger, poverty and inequality. But it is also the year in which ordinary people can make a real difference.   During the Year, we will provide the examples that can encourage people around Ireland to take personal action for a better world,” said Sharan Kelly, CEO of Tearfund Ireland and Chairperson of Dóchas, the organisation coordinating the events in Ireland.

Hans Zomer, Director of Dóchas says, “We are all inter-connected. Our actions as consumers, voters, citizens are influenced by global events, and in turn also impact on people in other countries. We believe 2015 is the year to highlight those international connections, and the many ways in which ordinary people can make a real difference.”

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Notes for Editors: 

  • Full text of President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins’ speech is available here:
  • In April 2014, the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council designated 2015 as the European Year for Development. The motto of the year will be “Our world, our dignity, our future”. It is the first time that the EU has dedicated a thematic year to an “external” policy area.
  • Dóchas is the Irish Association of Non-Governmental Development Organisations. It provides a forum for consultation and cooperation between its members, and a platform for them to speak with a single voice on development issues. Dóchas has been chosen to coordinate the Irish action plan for the European Year of Development. 

Speakers and change makers at the launch conference included:

  • Seán Sherlock TD, Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs with Special Responsibility for ODA, Trade Promotion and North South Co-operation
  • Internationally acclaimed Carry Somers, founder of Fashion Revolution. Her designs prove that it is possible to be a success in the fashion world while maintaining the highest social and environmental standards.
  • Cork teenagers Ciara Judge, Emer Hickey and Sophie Healy-Thow who were recently announced as some of Time Magazine’s Most Influential Teenagers Of 2014, alongside Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai.
  • Jim Corbett, Managing Director of Bewley’s. Bewley’s was first to bring fairtrade coffee to Ireland in 1996 and is Ireland’s largest supplier of fairtrade coffees nationwide. 
  • Catherine Mahoro – Down to Basics (DotoBa) Network of Immigrant Entrepreneurs
  • Helen Shaw, Athena Media, MC’d the event
  • Performances from Droichead Youth Theatre and Kunle Caleb Adewunmi - Yong Buddha
  • Clowns for Haiti

2015 is the target date for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the year in which UN member states will adopt a new global framework for poverty eradication and sustainable development. 2015 is also the year that a new international climate agreement will be decided, in Paris, and a new international agreement on the financing of development is expected to be reached in July in Addis Abeba.

Coordinated by Development NGOs in the Dóchas network, the European Year for Development will bring together young people, policy-makers, environmental NGOs, domestic anti-poverty groups, the private sector, academic institutions and individual stakeholders to inspire concerted action for sustainable development.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker launched the EU-level programme of activities at a high-level opening ceremony in Riga on 9 January.

For more information contact Naomi Linehan on 0861077079 or