200 The Ireland Canada University Foundation

Background

The Ireland Canada University Foundation (ICUF) was established in 1993 by the late Dr. Craig Dobbin O.C., and former President of Ireland, the late Dr. Patrick Hillery.

The scholarly exchanges between Ireland and Canada are rooted in a long tradition of inter linkage between the two countries, and ongoing experiences of both a shared and comparable nature. At the time of Canadian Confederation in 1867, the Irish ethnic group was second only to the French Canadians in terms of numerical strength, and close and enduring links have been founded upon that basis.

Historically, many political and social events and personalities have contributed to the trans- Atlantic bonds. The Ontario school system, for example, was developed upon the model of the Irish National School system, and it is, of course, well remembered that it was in Ottawa in 1948 that the then Taoiseach (Prime Minsister) John A. Costello, announced the intention to declare the Irish State a republic. Later that same year the Republic of Ireland Act was passed by the Oireachtas (Legislature).

Relations between Ireland and Canada are underpinned by substantial trade and investment flows, and by a shared commitment to democracy and human rights. The question of language rights, the acknowledgment of respective identities and the requirements of differing traditions are common to both our countries. Such issues – and possible responses to them – can be elucidated, explored and enhanced by comparative studies.