Plans for new Consulate General for the North of England
News16 November 2020
Plans for new Consulate General for the North of England
- Planning underway for new Irish Consulate to be based in Manchester
- Announcement comes as the Mayors of Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region pay a virtual visit to Dublin on 16 November
- The opening of this important new diplomatic mission will deliver a key Programme for Government commitment in terms of Irish-British relations
- The Consulate’s expected coverage area of the North West, the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber has a population of 15.5 million, over one million businesses and a GDP of GB£ 412 billion (in its own right, one of Europe’s top 12 economies)
On the occasion of a virtual joint visit to Ireland by the Mayors of Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Region, Minister Simon Coveney has announced his intention that Manchester will be the location for a new Consulate General of Ireland for the North of England.
Opening a Consulate in the North of England will fulfil one of the Programme for Government’s commitments to develop Irish-British relations. It is hoped that the first Consul General will be in place in the first half of 2021.
Following formal notification to the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) late last week, arrangements are now being made for this new diplomatic office, which will bring the number of Irish diplomatic missions in Great Britain to four. (The others are the Embassy of Ireland in London and the Consulates General in Edinburgh and Cardiff).
When opened, the Consulate General will join a recently-opened Enterprise Ireland office in Manchester, set up in 2019 to help Irish companies seek opportunities and partnerships across the North of England. It will work closely with the Embassy in London and all state agencies based in Britain.
Speaking ahead of the virtual visit, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney T.D., said:
“Moving ahead with plans for a new Consulate in the North of England is a really strong signal of Ireland’s commitment to the Irish-British relationship. When opened, this new Consulate General at the heart of the North of England will upgrade our capacity to advance our commercial interests and our cultural and people-to-people links.
I am especially delighted to be making this announcement today as the Tánaiste and I prepare to welcome a virtual visit from Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, and Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region.
Enhancing our collaboration with regional and local government in Britain will be a big part of our work to deepen Irish-British links. We look forward to a valuable exchange with Mayors Burnham and Rotheram today, who between them represent areas with a combined population of 4.3 million people and with deep historic links to Ireland”.
Reacting to the news of the new Consulate General, Julie Sinnamon, CEO of Enterprise Ireland said:
“Enterprise Ireland warmly welcomes the announcement of a new Consulate General for the North of England. The North West of England is a very dynamic business environment. Reflective of this, in 2019, Enterprise Ireland opened a second office in the UK, based in Manchester, to develop and sustain Irish export growth to the UK. In the North West of England there are particularly strong opportunities in infrastructure, housing, clean energy and transport, healthcare and manufacturing. While Brexit introduces challenges and complexity to the market, the UK will continue to be an important and attractive market for Irish enterprise. In 2019, Enterprise Ireland client companies achieved the highest ever recorded exports to the UK and overall grew by 2% to €7.9bn. We look forward to working with the Consulate General to strengthen Ireland’s presence in the region.”
Notes for Editors:
As notified to the UK government last week, the coverage area of the new diplomatic mission (known as the “Consular Area”) is expected to comprise the three regions of the North of England: North West, North East and Yorkshire and The Humber. When opened, the Consulate will report to the Ambassador of Ireland in London, Adrian O’Neill, and will work closely with Enterprise Ireland, who opened their office in Manchester in 2019, and with other Irish state agencies.
The opening of a Consulate General for the North of England is one of the Programme for Government’s commitments on Irish-British relations. It is also in line with commitments in Global Ireland – Ireland’s Global Footprint to 2025, a roadmap for the expansion of Ireland’s official footprint abroad which was published in June 2018.
This proposed new investment in the North of England follows the re-opening of Ireland’s Consulate General in Wales in 2019 and the expansion of Ireland’s Embassy in London. These steps are an important part of the Government’s plan to strengthen our relationship with our nearest neighbour at a time of major change.
The announcement comes just ahead of a virtual visit to Ireland by the Mayors of Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Region, who represent two significant areas of the North of England with close links to Ireland. The Mayors will join Graham Stuart MP, Minister at the Department for International Trade, for a meeting with the Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar T.D., and will meet later with Minister Coveney during their visit. The meetings will be co-chaired joined by Ambassador O’Neill and by H.E. Paul Johnston, British Ambassador to Ireland.
The three English regions which comprise the North of England (North West, North East and Yorkshire and The Humber) have a combined population of 15.5 million and a GDP of GB£412 billion – a GDP figure equivalent to one of Europe’s top 12 economies.
Mayor Burnham’s Greater Manchester Area has a population of 2.8 million, while Mayor Rotheram’s Liverpool City Region has a population of 1.5 million.
Irish links to the North of England are already very strong and stretch back for centuries. 137,000 people born on the island of Ireland live there, according to the last (2011) UK census; this means the total number of Irish citizens runs to the hundreds of thousands. Ireland’s Emigrant Support Programme (ESP) supports 29 Irish associations in the North of England.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, Dublin Airport alone had 148 flights a week to the North of England’s top five airports, with flights also operating from Belfast’s two airports, Cork, Knock, Shannon and Derry. Ferry routes also operate from Liverpool port to Dublin and Belfast, with strong historic resonance too as the traditional route for emigrants and migrant workers.
Northern England has 27 universities and at least six high-level research centres – Science Foundation Ireland report that approximately 200 academic collaborations are in place between researchers in Ireland and researchers in the North of England.
Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds host some of the largest-scale St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Britain each year.