Ireland assumes Presidency of the European Union and looks forward to welcoming new EU members.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern addressed members of the cabinet, diplomatic corps and invited guests. Mr Ahern spoke about the changes that will take place to the EU in the coming months with membership growing from fifteen member states to twenty five.

The Union is testament to the fact that people prosper when they put their differences aside and focus on what unites them.

This is the sixth occasion that Ireland has held the position since joining the community in 1973.

President of the European Parliament Pat Cox spoke to journalists about the role of the Taoiseach in the presidency.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 1 January 2004. The reporter is Charlie Bird.