The Department of Foreign Affairs
The Department consists of divisions and units at headquarters and a total of 92 diplomatic and consular offices abroad, often called "missions", as well as the British Irish Inter-Governmental Secretariat in Belfast and the North-South Ministerial Council Joint Secretariat in Armagh.
The Department’s headquarters provides policy support to the Government, key public services and assists the work of the embassy network. Our Embassies are uniquely placed to perform an important range of activities from representational duties to promotional work to providing crucial services to Irish people abroad.
Under the political direction of the Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney T.D. the Department is managed by the Secretary General. The Secretary General is Joe Hackett.
The Secretary General is supported by the Management Board. Embassies report to lead divisions or units based on priorities and geographical responsibilities.
Corporate Services Division comprises the Department’s Property Management, Security and Corporate Compliance and Information Communications Technology Units. Through the work of these Units, the Division deals with the issues of health and safety, data protection, freedom of information, archiving, records management and business continuity. It also provides technological infrastructures and services in support of the Department’s work, and deals with strategic and management issues relating to property and future places of work both at HQ and overseas, including as part of the Global Ireland initiative.
Development Cooperation and Africa Division manages and leads on the Government’s official development assistance (ODA) programme, known as Irish Aid. The ODA programme is an integral part of our foreign policy, allowing Ireland to contribute to reducing global poverty and improving the lives of some of the world’s poorest communities. Through the programme, Ireland supports developing countries across the world to make real and sustainable changes for the better in the lives of their most vulnerable citizens. The Division also has responsibility for all aspects of Ireland’s bilateral relations with Africa including political and economic relations with the countries of that continent.
European Union (EU) Division develops and co-ordinates Ireland’s EU policy. This includes Ireland’s policy on and approach to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU as well as coordinating the Government‘s overall response to Brexit. In close conjunction with the Permanent Representation, Brussels and Irish Embassies in the other EU Member States, it is responsible for seeking to ensure that they understand and where possible support Irish positions on EU issues. It also has responsibility for Irish policy towards the Western Balkans, Turkey, Russia, the countries of the EU’s Eastern Partnership and the Central Asian republics, and for Ireland’s participation in the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). The Division oversees Ireland’s bilateral relations with all European states, EU (other than the UK) and non-EU, and manages the Department’s European missions.
Finance Division has responsibility for all aspects of the Department's finance and budgetary functions, including the development and implementation of the Department's finance strategy, across both Votes 27 and 28. The Division also has responsibility for the public procurement function as well as the Department's engagement with relevant Civil Service-wide shared services initiatives.
Global Ireland Division is responsible for animating and activating the Global Ireland Programme, which aims to double Ireland’s influence and impact in the world by 2025, in the Department of Foreign Affairs, across Government Departments and agencies, and wider civil society. The Division’s work includes collaborating with Team Ireland partners to showcase Ireland; highlighting Ireland’s key partnerships in the world; and to amplifying our contribution in terms of culture, people, development aid and foreign policy. The Division has overall responsibility for the Department’s communications, information and digital media management and for cultural promotion and diplomacy. Global Ireland Division also leads a number of significant events that promote Ireland abroad, including the annual global St. Patrick’s Day programme and Ireland’s participation in Expo Dubai.
Citizen Services Division is the largest Headquarters Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs, reflecting the Department’s strong commitment to providing effective and timely services to Irish citizens at home and abroad, and to providing support for, and leading the Government's engagement with, the global Irish community. The Director General oversees the work of the Passport Service, the Consular Directorate, which is responsible for delivering consular services and assistance to Irish citizens overseas, and the Irish Abroad Unit, which leads on Government engagement with the diaspora.
Human Resources Division has three main Units. HR Abroad assists and supports officers and their families as they undertake postings and assists and supports posted staff in the role as local staff managers. HR HQ Workforce Planning Unit directs workforce planning, competitions, recruitment, assignments and postings. HR Strategy and Operations Unit coordinates the implementation of the HR Strategy and directs workplace relations, performance management, wellbeing, employee engagement, HR operations, and training and development. Human Resources Division has responsibility for implementing the Public Sector Reform Agenda across the Department, in cooperation with the Secretary General and the Strategy, Governance and Change Unit.
Ireland, United Kingdom, and Americas Division works to promote peace and reconciliation on the island of Ireland and the full and effective implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. The Division also has lead responsibility for bilateral relations with the UK, the US, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean. Working in close collaboration with EU Division, the Division leads on island of Ireland and British-Irish implications of Brexit.
Legal Division provides legal advice and assistance to the Minister and the Department on matters of public international law, human rights law and European Union law as it relates to foreign policy, and issues of domestic law particular to the Department; leads on international legal policy on international humanitarian law, international criminal justice and the law of the sea; represents Ireland in international legal proceedings and in legal committees in international organisations; carries out functions with respect to extradition and mutual legal assistance; and administers the Department’s Treaty Office.
Political Division is responsible for ensuring that Ireland’s values, interests and foreign policy objectives are reflected in the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). The Division also works to ensure that Ireland’s positions are advanced in various multilateral fora, most notably within the United Nations system, reflecting Ireland’s support for effective multilateralism and a stable rules-based international order, and leads Ireland’s UN Security Council membership through the UNSC Task Team. Political Division is overseen by the Political Director, to whom the North Africa and Middle East Peace Process (MEPP) Unit and the Gulf and Middle East Unit also report. These units are responsible for all aspects of Ireland’s relations with Middle East, Gulf and North African states, as well as Irish policy regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict.
HQ Stand Alone Units
Evaluation and Audit Unit provides an independent evaluation and audit function to the Department. The Unit supports the work of the Department by providing independent objective assessment, assurance, advice and insight regarding corporate performance, governance, risk management and internal control.
Protocol is responsible for the preparation and organisation of visits abroad by the President and visits to Ireland at Head of State, Head of Government and Foreign Minister level. In addition, Protocol facilitates official events and manages official hospitality undertaken by the Department and coordinates correspondence between the Department and Áras an Uachtaráin. The Protocol service also facilitates the operation of diplomatic missions in Ireland in accordance with international and domestic legislation.
Strategy, Governance and Change Unit supports the formulation of Departmental strategic processes to ensure effective implementation of the Department’s high-level goals. The unit ensures that strong governance systems are in place across the Department, in full compliance with public sector obligations, through support of the Management Board and its various sub-committees. The Unit leads on the Department's business planning, risk management and performance reporting processes as well as the implementation of the Public Service and Civil Service Reform Agendas. The Unit has responsibility for the annual Mission Review Programme of Embassies and Consulates, which assesses the organisational performance and strategic direction of a Mission in the implementation of the Department’s high-level goals. The Unit is central to the promotion of innovation and change across the Department including through the provision of project management support through the Project Management Office, a key driver of transformation and delivery of strategic projects, through the framework of the Programme Oversight Board (POB).
Asia Pacific Unit has responsibility for all aspects of bilateral relations between Ireland and the Asia and Pacific region (including Australia and New Zealand), with the exception of Central Asia (EU Division) and development aspects of relationship with Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Pacific Islands (DCAD). The work of the Unit is informed and guided by the Asia Pacific Strategy, which was published in January 2020, and sets out high-level ambitions to enhance our political, economic, cultural and people-to-people relations with the region.
Economic Promotion Unit was set up to carry out many of the functions previously associated with Trade Division. DFA seeks to advance Ireland's prosperity by aiding colleagues at home and abroad to promote our economic interests internationally; enabling Ireland's economic diplomacy through effective coordination, mobilisation and communication of government policies and our resources. The EPU supports this work by informing and resourcing the mission network, as well as HQ colleagues, with promotion and outreach funding, briefing, messaging and data to support them in their economic diplomacy roles, an important part of the work in advancing Ireland’s prosperity.
Policy Planning Unit works to contribute to strategic policy formulation within DFA, by developing and coordinating analysis of longer-term trends in policy areas of priority interest within Ireland’s external relations, to inform our future action. The Unit works in close cooperation with key stakeholders within DFA and across Government, and aims to develop stronger and mutually beneficial relationships between DFA and the broader foreign policy community.
Where we are
The Department has its headquarters in Iveagh House, St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin. Irish Aid is based in Limerick and Dublin, while some offices of the Department are based in other locations in central Dublin. Our Passport Offices are located in Dublin, Balbriggan and Cork.