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Visit by the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins,

and Sabina Higgins,

to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

The President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, accompanied by his wife, Sabina, and the Minister of State for Development, Trade Promotion and North-South Co-operation, Seán Sherlock T.D., will arrive in Addis Ababa on Sunday, 2 November at the beginning of a visit to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the Republic of Malawi and the Republic of South Africa.

Ireland and the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia are celebrating twenty years of diplomatic relations this year and the purpose of the visit is to reinforce bilateral relations between both countries and to underline Ireland’s desire to expand and deepen co-operation with Ethiopia, building on historic ties of culture, diplomacy, missionary activity, development co-operation and friendship.  The President is expected to address pan-African themes including climate change and the post-2015 development agenda.

On Monday, 3 November the President will meet with Their Excellencies the President and Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.  During the meeting with the Prime Minister three significant bilateral treaties – a Double Taxation Agreement, a Bilateral Transport Agreement and a Bilateral Co-operation Agreement – will be signed.  The Bilateral Transport agreement will pave the way for direct flights by Ethiopian Airlines from June 2015 between Addis Ababa and Dublin, opening up the first ever direct scheduled route between Ireland and Africa.  The Bilateral Co-operation Agreement will provide a framework for a five-year development partnership, estimated to be worth €136 million (or Ethiopian Birr 3.4 billion), focussed on health, nutrition, agriculture and governance.  At the meeting both Governments will launch a new reflection culminating ultimately in a roadmap sketching out the nature of their bilateral partnership over the next twenty years.

The President will also visit a Women in Sustainable Employment (WISE) project in Addis which is supported by an Irish NGO, Trócaire.

The President will then travel to Gambella on Tuesday, 4 November and visit refugee camps there to witness and acknowledge the good work of the Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA), the UN agencies and Irish NGOs such as GOAL and Concern.

On Wednesday, 5 November the President will give a keynote speech at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

The President will also meet the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Africa, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, on Thursday, 6 November before travelling to Mekelle, Tigray, where he will visit the Monument to the Martyrs, the Tigray Agricultural Research Institute and the Daughters of Charity Eye Clinic

On Friday, 7 November the President will visit the Damayno School in Gergera, Tigray to see at firsthand a project encouraging the orange-fleshed sweet potato, one of the most nutritious foods in the world, and the successful results of new watershed management techniques pioneered by Irish Aid.  The President will then visit a model health clinic in Abreha-Atsbeha, home also to a renowned rock-hewn church.

On his return to Addis Ababa, the President will visit the Hamlin Fistula Hospital on the morning of Saturday, 8 November. 

Contact: Makda Getachew 0920 112 390

Note for Editors:

In 2011, the people of Ireland elected Michael D. Higgins as the ninth President of Ireland.  A passionate political voice, academic, human rights advocate, promoter of inclusive citizenship and champion of creativity within Irish society, Michael D. Higgins has previously served at almost every level of public life in Ireland, including as Ireland's first Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht.  As a lecturer in political science and sociology in National University of Ireland, Galway, and in the United States, Michael D. Higgins was a passionate proponent for the extension of access to third level education beyond the walls of established universities.  Michael D. Higgins is also a writer and poet, contributing to many books covering diverse aspects of Irish politics, sociology, history and culture. He has published two collections of essays — ‘Causes for Concern — Irish Politics, Culture and Society’ and ‘Renewing the Republic’. He has also published four collections of poetry – ‘The Betrayal’; ‘The Season of Fire’; ‘An Arid Season’ and ‘New and Selected Poems.’

Ireland has had a long term engagement with the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, having enjoyed an on-the-ground presence since 1994.  The goal of the new five-year bilateral partnership which will be launched during the visit will be “to support Ethiopia’s growth and poverty reduction plans so that the poor benefit from, and contribute to, equitable economic, social and environmental development.”  The strategy is in line with Ireland’s international development policy and the Ethiopian Government’s Growth and Transformation Plan.