Having arrived in Luxembourg shortly before the covid-19 pandemic, Irish ambassador Stephen Dawson on Friday celebrated his first St Patrick’s Day reception in the country, which is also be his last ahead of his departure.

Dawson started his mandate as ambassador to Luxembourg in October 2019 and is due to return to Dublin in August.

“Disaster was successfully averted,” he said of Ireland and Luxembourg’s response to the pandemic, which dominated his mandate. “But many of us, me included, lost friends and family along the way.”

Life is returning to normal, he said. Ireland’s economy has bounced back, similar to Luxembourg’s, and unemployment is below 5%. The next crisis--the war in Ukraine and a spike in energy prices and the cost of living--is however already unfolding.

“These things have to be endured,” he said in light of the violence and terror suffered by the people of Ukraine, whose endurance Dawson called “awe-inspiring.”

Ireland’s history of neutrality does not mean that the country is impartial, said Dawson, adding that his has supported sanctions packages, supplied military aid and welcomed more than 75,000 refugees.

During his remarks, Dawson spoke of a “warm friendship” between Luxembourg and Ireland that “runs both ways”. Luxembourg opened an embassy in Dublin last year, there are Irish sports and music clubs in the grand duchy, and both countries share their support of the European Union.

Ireland became joined the European communities on 1 January 1973, with its membership in the block transforming the country, said Dawson, also speaking of the Windsor Framework between the UK and the EU to regulate border issues with Northern Ireland.

Dawson during his remarks paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II and her love of Ireland, which in December last year marked 100 years since becoming an independent nation. “We’re no longer a young country,” said Dawson.