In her acceptance speech, President McAleese said, "This generous occasion is symbolic of the warm friendship that exists between our two countries." She also emphasized the importance of education several times saying that it was the main reason for Ireland’s growth in the past ten years. Additionally, she mentioned gender equality, comparing it to two wings working together instead of one. She said that Ireland has changed a lot, "dismantling the old partriarchal system," but that there is need for more change in areas such as the Parliament, where women take up only 13 percent of the seats.
Mary McAleese is the eighth president of Ireland. She was elected in 1997 and was reelected in 2004 by over 90 percent of voters, with no opposition.
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