It’s a pleasure to be with you all this evening at the St Patricks’ Day Christmas Ball and fundraiser.
We’re here to support a very worthy organisation to raise funds for its St Patrick’s Day Festival, parade and family day next March.
The St Patrick’s Day festival is landmark event on the cultural calendar for many across our state.
I know that next year will deliver another world-class event with live music, Irish dancing, Irish language lessons, food stalls, pipe bands, and much more.
It will bring a small piece of Ireland right here to our Sydney streets.
Of course, these celebrations not only honour the achievements of St Patrick—the much-loved patron saint of Ireland—but it also reflects the pride the Irish community takes in your heritage.
Importantly, it also allows for everyone in New South Wales to experience the lively Irish culture.
I think we can all agree, St Patrick’s Day is a day where everyone can be Irish.
And that’s a testament to you—you embrace everyone, whether it is St Patrick’s Day or not.
And this is something we value here in Australia.
We accept everyone—no matter your cultural background, the language you speak or your faith.
In fact, we believe it is our diversity that makes us a great society.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Karen and the hard-working team at the Sydney St Patrick’s Day Organisation for continuing to deliver such a wonderful showcase of Irish culture.
Tonight I thank you for those efforts—this year and every year.
The NSW Government considers itself a good friend of the St Patrick’s Day Organisation, and of course, the Irish community more broadly.
I’ve seen your work in action many times and I’ve attended many of your wonderful events, both before and after I became Minister for Multiculturalism.
In March this year, I took part in the St Patrick’s parade at The Rocks.
And I was also really pleased to be involved with its citizenship ceremony at the Overseas Passenger Terminal.
This was a moving experience.
What could be more fitting in modern multicultural NSW than becoming an Australian citizen on St Patrick’s Day?
Today, more than 735,000 of residents in New South Wales, or more than nine percent of our population, have Irish ancestry.
And the great immigration story of Irish people to Australia shares a great deal with the story of St Patrick.
As the story goes, St Patrick first came to Ireland against his will, having been captured and enslaved by pirates.
The adversity that he faced through this experience shaped his sense of self and purpose.
Later in life, after St Patrick had fled back to his family in Britain, he returned to Ireland to preach.
And while St Patrick faced the challenges of an immigrant, he shaped his new home to be the place it is today through his work and sense of purpose.
Like St Patrick, so many Irish have come to the shores of Australia, either against their will as convicts and prisoners of war, or willingly as immigrants.
Accordingly, our state and nation have been shaped by the values and achievements of Irish-born migrants and their descendants.
The tenacity and determination that Irish migrants have brought to these shores has been a key driver of our social, cultural, philanthropic and economic success.
The Aussie sense of mateship, our willingness to work hard and to come together in times of trouble, owes much to Irish influence.
Before I finish, I would like to share some great news on behalf of the NSW Premier, Dominic Perrottet.
Thanks to the Advocacy of the Sydney St Patrick’s Day Organisation and the Irish Consulate in Sydney, the NSW Government will light up the Opera house in the colour Green, to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in 2023.
There is a fitting way to celebrate the vast contributions of Irish Australians to our state.
To close, I thank the Sydney St Patrick’s Day Organisation for inviting me along this evening.
And I thank the Organisation, and you all, for your commitment to our multicultural way of life.
On behalf of the NSW Government, I wish you all a happy, peaceful and safe Christmas.
I’m Mark Coure, Minister for Multiculturalism.