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Minister Flanagan announces 2017 St. Patrick’s Day “Promote Ireland” Programmes

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan TD, today [Tuesday] announced the “Promote Ireland” programme of international events which will see Taoiseach, Tánaiste and 27 Ministers taking part in over 100 business events and high-level political meetings in 27 countries.

Delivering an intensive programme of ministerial-led trade missions is a key commitment in the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs.  

Announcing the St Patrick’s Day ‘Promote Ireland’ programme for 2017, which will see the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and 27 Ministers and Ministers of State taking part in business events and high-level political meetings in 27 countries, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan T.D. said:

“The St. Patrick’s Day period is a time to renew the important links between Ireland and the global Irish abroad.  From Asia to the Americas, we come together each St Patrick’s Day to share in the pride and memory of our common heritage and affinity.

“This year will see the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and 27 Ministers and Ministers of State undertake intensive programmes involving over 50 cities in 27 countries across Europe, the Americas, Asia, the Pacific, and the Middle East for a truly global celebration of Ireland.  The greening of landmarks is proving ever more popular as each site acts like a beacon, celebrating our National Day.

“St. Patrick’s Day provides Ireland with both an international platform to deliver our strategic messages as well as access to key political and business contacts in leading markets around the world.  This year St. Patrick’s Day falls in a month of critical importance, with the expected triggering of Article 50 by the UK and the beginning of its formal negotiations to leave the EU.  It is essential that Irish Ministers continue to highlight Ireland’s priorities to Member State governments throughout Europe, building on the important work that has already taken place.  We will also be spreading the message beyond Europe’s borders that Ireland is remaining in the EU and it remains a very attractive destination for investment and trade, for study and for tourism.  We are also working hard to deepen our market penetration in European markets.

“In line with our strategy of pursuing market diversification to build resilience into the economy, we will also have a strong presence in the Asia-Pacific region, where high-level political engagement is vital to laying the groundwork for business to flourish.  Among the destinations included in this year’s St. Patrick’s Day programme for the first time is Indonesia, where an Embassy was opened in Jakarta in 2014 and there is currently a balance of trade of over €700m in Ireland’s favour.  This high potential market under the Government’s Trade, Tourism and Investment Strategy has a population of over 250 million people and is the world’s 16th largest economy.  As part of this Department’s New Economic Diplomacy, a commercial attaché was appointed there in autumn 2016 to further enhance trade links including in the agri-food and education sectors. 

“As always North America will be a focus, given the perennial bonds of friendship between our country and the US and Canada. At the highest political levels, it allows us to express our interests and beliefs to the White House and to Congress.  We will, as in previous years, not hesitate to make the most of this opportunity. 

“Yet the celebration of our national day in both the United States and Canada every March is more than high-level meetings and the promotion of Ireland.  It is an opportunity for us in Ireland to recognise the Irish contribution to North America.  The celebration of our National Day is widespread and heartfelt, an opportunity to recall the contribution of all of those Irish who made the often painful journey across the Atlantic.  In building new lives for themselves, they helped build the great nations of the New World.  In that spirit we join the celebrations across some twenty cities in the company of countless individuals, communities and groups who share bonds of kinship, friendship and affinity with us.

“As representatives of the Government and people of Ireland, Ministers will engage in full and focused programmes to promote our trade, tourism, and investment.  Ministers will take part in business events and dozens of high-level political meetings as part of an intensive ‘Promote Ireland’ programme.  We look forward in particular this year to shining a spotlight on ‘Creative Ireland’ in all its forms.

“Ministers will also carry messages about Ireland and our core values: our connectedness to the world economy, our belief in trade liberalization, our commitment to the European Union, and our profound belief in democracy, the rule of law and human rights.”


Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor added:

“This programme of international events, which includes a significant number of business and trade elements is all important in consolidating relationships with existing companies and seeking out new markets. This year in particular we have important messaging: that Ireland is open for business, that we offer a strong value proposition and that here in Ireland you will be in good company; with the many globally recognised companies that have chosen to locate here. I look forward to flying the flag for Ireland.”


Julie Sinnamon, CEO of Enterprise Ireland said:

“As the UK takes a step closer to triggering article 50, it is imperative that Irish companies build new and stronger trade links in international markets. The St. Patricks Day event schedule aims to open doors for Irish companies and create opportunities to start negotiations and win significant business contracts in overseas markets. Complementing the schedule announced today, Enterprise Ireland, as part of the 2017-2020 strategy to support Irish companies to build scale and expand reach, will publish a wider trade and events programme in the coming weeks which further aims to target key industry sectors in high potential growth markets.”


This year’s ‘Promoting Ireland’ programme includes the following elements:


Synopsis of key points re locations


USA (Washington DC; NYC)

Key political engagements; key diaspora location; large-scale celebrations to mark SPD; opportunities for key meetings



IDA priority

Tier 1 market priority for Tourism Ireland

In 2015 the US was Ireland’s largest market for goods exports (€26.2 bn) – an increase of over 26% on 2014. In 2015, Ireland’s trade in services with the US was valued at €43.85 bn – a 16% increase over 2014.

Over 430 Irish companies across USA.

US is Ireland’s largest source of inward investment (70% of FDI).

Strong R&D & science & tech links (340 academic collaborations co-funded by SFI in 2015).

2016 was the 4th successive record year for visitor numbers from the US to Ireland (1.4 million US visitors spending approx. $1.4 bn).

Cross-Sectoral Strategy for the Americas in preparation.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny

USA (San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego)

See section on USA

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald

United Kingdom

Priority location for FDI opportunities; outstanding opportunity to amplify the Government’s key messages on Brexit and further develop political and economic relationships.

Over €1 bn in bilateral trade per week.

Tier 1 market priority for Tourism Ireland

Minister Richard Bruton

Germany (Munich; Stuttgart; Cologne; Berlin)

Largest EU economy

Priority market including for FDI

Total bilateral trade of approx. €25 bn.

4th largest merchandise trade partner; 2nd largest destination of Irish services; 2nd largest source of  FDI; 3rd largest source of visitors (after the US and UK); 6th largest export market for Irish Food and Drink

Tier 1 market priority for Tourism Ireland


Priority location for Brexit engagement

Minister Michael Creed


Second largest economy in Europe

Ireland’s largest Eurozone export market for food and beverages and third largest market globally.

Tier 1 market priority for Tourism Ireland


Priority location for Brexit engagement

Minister Leo Varadkar

Italy (Milan; Rome)

Trade – food, tourism & financial services promotional opportunities;

Italy is Ireland's 9th largest export trading partner with total bilateral trade valued at €11.42 billion in 2014.

Tier 2 priority for Tourism Ireland

Priority location for Brexit engagement

Holy See Embassy

Minister Charlie Flanagan

Sweden & Denmark (Stockholm & Copenhagen)

Sweden: Priority Market for Ireland and exports to Sweden amount to €741m.

Sweden: Volvo Supply Day event (14th)

Denmark: 2015 merchandise trade between Ireland and Denmark was valued at over €1.13bn.

Tier 2 market priority for Tourism Ireland

Priority location for Brexit engagement

Minister Heather Humphreys


Bord Bia office opened in Singapore October 2016; Irish agri-food sector market diversification is a key priority regionally.  Ireland has longstanding links with Malaysia in the field of education, and is one of the core markets in Ireland’s international education strategy.

Singapore: Singapore is a gateway to the ASEAN region and EI, IDA & Bord Bia have representative offices there which cover the ASEAN region. Total merchandise trade in 2015 was valued at €1.028bn; exports at €607m and imports at €421m.

Malaysia: Education cooperation is an important element of the bi-lateral trade relationship. It is one of Ireland’s most valuable education partnerships, contributing €50 million annually to the Irish economy in fees and associated spending.

Cross-Sectoral Strategy for Asia-Pacific in preparation.

Minister Michael Noonan

Canada (Toronto)

Priority market and a G7/G20 country and the world’s 10th largest economy. 

Annual bilateral trade is close to CAN$2.3bn with a healthy surplus in Ireland’s favour.

Tourism from Canada has increased markedly in recent years, with a 56% increase in the number of Canadian visitors to Ireland, driven in part by a dramatic improvement in air connections. 

Opportunity for trade & economic links to grow with implementation of CETA.

Strong and active Irish diaspora.

Tier 1 priority market for Tourism Ireland

Cross-Sectoral Strategy for the Americas in preparation.

Minister Simon Coveney

USA (Boston, Seattle)

See section on USA

Minister Katherine Zappone

USA (St. Louis; Chicago; NYC)

See section on USA

Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor

Japan, Korea

60th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Japan in 2017; Japan is FDI priority in growth & emerging markets.

Identified by Tourism Ireland as a market of interest but where TI has no representation.

Trend of increasing trade between Ireland and Korea.  Embassy and Agencies building trade links raising profile ref. food products, life sciences, and higher education/English language. 

Cross-Sectoral Strategy for Asia-Pacific in preparation.

Minister Paschal Donohoe

United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi; Dubai)

Major opportunities for Irish exporters in UAE market and continued focus on EXPO2020.

Identified as a developing market by Tourism Ireland (note: there are daily flights between Ireland & UAE).

UAE is Ireland’s 2nd largest market in the Arab world.

Total bilateral trade (goods and services) in 2015 was valued at €1,635 million, a 70% increase on 2014.  TheUAE is a key market for Irish services exports in construction, consultancy and training. 

Ireland has a visa office in Dubai;

EI has a regional office in Dubai & have a rep in Abu Dhabi (Exports by EI client companies to the UAE increased by 37% in 2014).

Bord Bia has an office in Dubai & an agricultural attaché was posted to Embassy Abu Dhabi in the summer of 2016.

Chief Whip Regina Doherty

Scotland (Edinburgh)

Scotland is home to a large Irish community, including 23,000 born in Ireland and 50,000 who declare their principal ethnic identity as Irish.

Scotland is one of the most important UK regions outside of London in terms of Irish exports, inward investment and tourism. The level of economic exchange between Ireland and Scotland has risen sharply in recent years.  The Irish Consulate initiated the establishment of the Irish Business Network Scotland in late 2015. 

Minister of State Finian McGrath

Brazil (Brasilia; Rio; Sao Paolo)

Largest economy in Latin America & the 7th largest economy globally.

Significant educational links including partnerships with Universities and Institutes of Technology. 

Active Irish Business Networks in Sao Paolo & Rio de Janeiro.

In 2015 exports to Brazil by EI companies rose 4%

Cross-Sectoral Strategy for the Americas in preparation.

Minister of State John Halligan

Lebanon (UNIFIL mission)

UNIFIL troops (Ireland’s largest & longest serving contingent of peacekeeping troops; Commanding Office is now an Irish Major General)

Minister of State Paul Kehoe

Indonesia, Western Australia (Jakarta; Perth)

Indonesia is largest economy in ASEAN, a G20 member, population of 253 million, and has significant potential as a market for Ireland.  Embassy opened in Jakarta in 2015; Commercial Attaché appointed as part of new economic diplomacy.

Australia remains the single largest Asia Pacific export market for EI non-food clients.

Ireland and Australia marked 60 years of bilateral relations in 2016 and an inward visit from its (Perth-based) Foreign Minister is likely to take place in 2017.  Australia has significant diaspora, political and cultural / tourism links (Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland and Tourism Ireland have representative offices in Australia).

Tier 2 priority market for Tourism Ireland.

Cross-Sectoral Strategy for Asia-Pacific in preparation.

Priority location for Brexit engagement

Minister of State David Stanton


Tier 2 priority market for Tourism Ireland.

Combined trade in goods and services between Ireland and Spain in 2015 stood at €9.6 bn., with Ireland enjoying a surplus of over €4bn (CSO).  Emphasis in exports is on the large Spanish multinational sector and record numbers of Spanish tourists visiting Ireland.  Spain is also the tenth largest export market for Irish food and drink products, the third largest export destination for Irish seafood and third largest market for Irish livestock sales. 

Priority location for Brexit engagement

Minister of State Dara Murphy

Hungary; Czech Republic (Budapest, Prague)

Czech Republic: bilateral merchandise trade valued at €1.6 Bn. (Czech Statistics Office) Direct flights daily.

Hungary: Increased numbers of Irish companies establishing a presence in Hungary.  Strong connectivity and people-to-people links - 14 direct flights weekly, 12,000 Hungarians living in Ireland.

Priority location for Brexit engagement

Minister of State Marcella Corcoran Kennedy


Trade between Ireland and Poland is growing strongly (worth around €2.9 billion in 2015, and growing by over 20% annually).  Strong people-to people links because of the very large (ca. 150,000) Polish community in Ireland, which also helps drive the growth in trade.

Priority location for Brexit engagement

Minister of State Damien English

The Netherlands; Belgium

Belgium: Ireland’s second largest destination for merchandise, large Irish Community (10-15,000), 129,400 tourists (+22%). Belgium is also Ireland’s ninth largest food and drink export market (€209million in 2015).

NL: 5th largest export market.  Opportunities for Irish agri-food and Information Technology, software and telecoms enterprises.

Tier 2 priority market for Tourism Ireland (both countries).

Priority location for Brexit engagement

Minister of State Andrew Doyle

USA:   (NYC, Philadelphia/Tristate area)

See section on USA

Minister of State Joe McHugh

China: (Beijing, Shanghai & Hong Kong)

China is now the world’s second largest economy. Total trade with China in 2015 was worth €11.13bn. This is an increase of 42% compared to 2014, when it was worth €7.84bn.

Political level visits to China play a critical role in bilateral and trade relations. SPD programme includes intensive promotional engagements organised by the Embassy in close consultation with the China-based State Agencies, EI, IDA, Bord Bia and Tourism Ireland.

China is identified by Tourism Ireland as a developing market.

Cross-Sectoral Strategy for Asia-Pacific in preparation.

Minister of State Sean Canney

USA: (Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Atlanta, Savannah)

See section on USA

Minister of State Michael Ring


Strong historic & diaspora links, opportunity for Rugby World Cup campaigning

Argentina has the largest population (350,000-500,000) of Irish descent outside the English-speaking world (most now 4th / 5th generation).

In 2015, Argentina was Ireland’s third largest trading partner in goods in the LAC region after Mexico & Brazil.

Cross-Sectoral Strategy for The Americas in preparation.

Minister of State Helen McEntee

USA (Austin)

See section on USA

Minister of State Pat Breen

Canada (Toronto; Montreal)

See section on Canada

Minister of State Eoghan Murphy

East Coast Australia; New Zealand 

See section on Australia


New Zealand: Approx. one in six New Zealanders claim Irish heritage. Almost 14,000 Irish people in NZ at time of 2011 census; many more hold Irish citizenship through parents/grandparents.

Total merchandise exports in 2015 were valued at €92 million; imports were valued at €51.7 million.  CSO figures from 2014 valued Ireland’s services exports at €146 million.

Tourist numbers from New Zealand to the island of Ireland in 2015 were 32,000.

Opportunity for Rugby World Cup campaigning.

Cross-Sectoral Strategy for Asia-Pacific in preparation.

Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan

USA: (Cleveland; Dublin; Columbus)

See section on USA

Minister of State Sean Kyne