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Jim Hennessy - Embassy Riga

Like a number of Irish Embassies one diplomat covers the full range of the Mission’s work on trade and bilateral relations.

2016 was memorable in Riga because our 1916 story resonated strongly. That period was also a hinge in their history. In the wake of the Russian revolution change swept across the Baltics and Latvia declared independence in 1918.

The Minister has set out clear objectives in the Global Island Foreign Policy Review and the Department’s Statement of Strategy. With limited resources we really have to prioritise carefully.

We get very detailed direction from Dublin through continuous video conferencing with DFAT, D/Taoiseach and D/Finance so we are clear what we need the target on the EU agenda and in the Trade area. We are in regular contact with Enterprise Ireland, Tourism Ireland and Bord Bia to share intelligence and assist Irish business.

I personally believe the recent innovation to organise the Embassies in our region into the Nordic Baltic Embassy Group has been a major impact multiplier. Our seven small Missions have only eleven Irish staff between us but by pooling the intelligence we gather, our business leads and ideas how we can do things better, I believe we are building a strong profile in Northern Europe. With Brexit negotiations looming we need to build new relationships and get our message out as widely as we can.

We are significantly increasing our use of social media and with the help of our multilingual local staff our team of three in Riga communicates in English, Irish, Latvian and Russian.