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Speech by Minister Deenihan for Irish Business Networks Lunch

Speech by Minister Deenihan for Irish Business Networks Lunch
Embassy of Ireland, London
Friday 17th October, 2014

I would like to begin by thanking the Ambassador and Greta for kindly hosting this lunch today with members of the Irish business networks based in London.

As we all know Ireland has had a long and varied association with Britain but today our relationship is at a new level – and this was highlighted with the amazing State Visit in April by President Higgins. Indeed, the political, economic and cultural relationships between Britain and Ireland are stronger today than they have ever been at any time in history. Our political links were strengthened firstly by the historic State Visit by HM the Queen in 2011 and then by the signing of The Joint Statement by An Taoiseach and PM Cameron in 2012. And these were further strengthened last week by the signing of the British Irish Visa Scheme which will facilitate nationals requiring a short-stay visa to travel freely within the Common Travel Area using a single visa issued by either Ireland or the UK.

Our cultural relationship continues to grow with Irish artists, designers and musicians coming to the fore in Britain. Irish Design 2015, an exciting initiative, which was announced in this week’s budget will offer an enormous opportunity for Irish design, at its broadest description, to be showcased nationally and internationally. This initiative, as recommended at the last Global Irish Economic Forum, is being driven by the Design & Craft Council of Ireland on behalf of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation. Its aim is to embed design into industry which will lead to a step-change in how Ireland is perceived through the lens of design and will ultimately add new jobs, and value, to the sector. Britain, and in particular London, will be very significant in the promotion of ID2015 in the coming year with collaborations with the V & A Museum, London Design Festival, London Fashion Week and London Festival of Architecture among others. This heightened activity will increase awareness of Irish design, and designers, and help grow economic activity in the sector.

And our economic ties grow stronger each week as Irish companies continue to trade with our nearest neighbour and our biggest export market. Ireland has been through a difficult economic phase but we have emerged from it stronger and better equipped to face the challenges ahead.

And you the Irish Diaspora – the business leaders of tomorrow - have played a major role in our comeback story and we want you to be part of our future story. The Irish Government places a great value on the Irish abroad who act as ambassadors for Ireland – encouraging colleagues to do business in Ireland, to visit Ireland, to invest in Ireland.

Irish people are renowned for networking. In fact the first thing that should be said is that networking is a very Irish trait, it comes naturally to us. The old adage of six degrees of separation is the theory that everyone in the world is six or fewer steps away from one another. But when you put a group of Irish people into the mix the degrees of separation become even fewer. We all know someone who went to college with somebody else or who comes from the same town or village as someone we know.

Here in London you have a plethora of Irish networks – everything from entrepreneurs, engineers, architects, solicitors, accountants, construction, young professionals, women’s network and graduates. I believe there is even a strong Kerry group!!

These networks provide a resource that can generate opportunities and provide support to Irish based-businesses and individuals. Through the networks the positive messaging on Ireland and its economy reaches a wide and influential audience. In so doing they are also supporting the work of the Embassy and the development agencies based here in the UK.

Ireland is definitely back on the road to economic recovery. And this is in no small way thanks to Irish people like those of you here today – involved in businesses and networks – who continue to promote Ireland as a great place to do business.

Continue the good work and thank you.