Protocol Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
One of my main responsibilities in Protocol is to manage the accreditation of foreign Ambassadors to Ireland. This means getting Government approval for their appointment (known as ‘agrément’ from the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations) and then organising their credential ceremonies, where they present their letters of accreditation to the President of Ireland. There are 142 countries accredited to Ireland. 58 of these have Embassies in Dublin with resident Ambassadors, and most of the others are based in London.
In 2015, I organised 23 agréments, met 30 new Ambassadors, and arranged 10 credential ceremonies. Ambassadors are usually posted to Ireland for three or four years, but I’m always kept busy with arranging accreditation for the newest arrivals. For the first step, I prepare a Draft Memorandum for Government. When the Government has approved the new Ambassador, I then organise their presentation of credentials, which is a formal engagement with the President of Ireland. I usually greet new Ambassadors on arrival at the airport on behalf of the Chief of Protocol. The credential ceremonies, which are held at Áras an Uachtaráin, are formal occasions and carried out with military ceremony.
For the non-resident Ambassadors, I usually arrange a programme of meetings for their visit to Dublin. This involves contacting Government Departments, the Oireachtas and Trade and Professional Organisations. I enjoy establishing contacts with the Ambassadors and officials from a wide range of countries. I get to know a lot of Ambassadors and Embassy staff from many different countries, which is very helpful when we organise events like the New Year’s Greetings ceremony at Áras an Uachtaráin each January and the National Day of Commemoration in Kilmainham in July.