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Speech by Minister Flanagan to highlight job creation potential


Speech by the Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade, Charles Flanagan T.D.

ConnectIreland Event, 11 March 2015

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to be with you here this morning to discuss with you the unique opportunity that St Patrick’s Day provides us as a nation to raise the international profile of our country. This year, I am anxious that the team of Government ministers travelling uses all appropriate opportunities to promote the concept of ‘Connect Ireland’ to a wide audience.

At this time of year, we are the envy of all nations, big and small, when St. Patrick’s Day gives us a platform to market ourselves to the world – from cultural, tourism and trade perspectives. The Global Greenings of iconic and less well known buildings, from Niagara Falls in North America to the Colosseum in Rome, from the Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai to the Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro and not forgetting Big Ben and Edinburgh Castle in our neighbouring countries provides Ireland with invaluable positive exposure for the entire month of March, the highpoint being the 17th of course.

As I speak, the final touches are being put to Ministerial programmes in 45 destinations across 27 different countries as the Government prepares to maximise the potential of our national holiday. Last year “Promote Ireland” engagements saw 30 trade-focussed visits. In addition there were over 100 business events involving over 13,600 Irish and international company representative and 115 company events with the potential to support new commercial links, export opportunities or to win new investments and I expect that this year will have a similar impact.

The Ministerial travel this year is centred on our priority markets under the Government’s Trade, Tourism and Investment Strategy and in line with the key locations identified by State Agencies in cooperation with my own Department. High level political presence in these markets is essential for opening doors and doing business and attracting the kind of media attention that adds value to all of our work.

I am delighted this year that a representative of ConnectIreland will travel to Chicago and Milwaukee to participate in elements of the Minister Deenihan’s programme. The collaboration between my Department and ConnectIreland allows for a broadening and deepening of our engagement with our diaspora and we hope, it will deliver new connectors for the ‘Succeed in Ireland’ initiative, which recently reached the 1,000 jobs mark – I congratulate all concerned on this achievement.
I know that you also had a presence at the World Gaelic Games in UAE last week again, harnessing the potential and enthusiasm of our diaspora to help create investment and jobs back home.

The creation of jobs, and providing opportunities here in Ireland for those that want to come home, is a key priority for the Government and we see 2016 being the year that more Irish people will return home than will leave. This year’s annual Action Plan for Jobs focuses on regional development and the ‘Succeed in Ireland’ model of investment complements that approach well. ‘Succeed in Ireland’ is linked closely with a sense of place that connectors have, not just to Ireland but to their own region, town or even parish. With new jobs created across the country from Cork, to Kells to Carlow, the regional impact on growth is a vital ingredient in developing an infrastructure that provides opportunity for everyone.

It has been an important few weeks for our engagement with the diaspora as the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and I, together with Minister Deenihan, launched Global Irish: Ireland’s Diaspora Policy. This is the first time the Government has published a clear policy on the diaspora and, while emigrant welfare remains at the core of our policy, the document recognises that there are many among the Irish diaspora who want to build economic links with Ireland and to contribute to a strong Irish economy which can provide jobs for our people and the prosperity that provides the best public services. The policy outlines the importance of the diaspora in leveraging greater levels of trade, foreign direct investment and tourism, through business networks worldwide and through the Global Irish Network and the Global Irish Economic Forum.

As announced last week, the next Global Irish Economic Forum will be held in Dublin on 19 – 21 November and will provide the opportunity to develop the work that has been done in previous Forums. Through the policies this Government has put in place, this Forum will take place in a greatly improved economic climate. The members of the Global Irish Network and indeed the wider diaspora, have always been generous in their enthusiasm to contribute to the success of our country and that generosity of spirit was allowed the ‘Succeed in Ireland’ initiative to work effectively. ‘Succeed in Ireland’, part of the Government’s 2012 Action Plan for Jobs, has a clear and simple message: earn a reward for setting up a business in Ireland. As a Government, we want to help you spread that message.

The St Patrick’s Day period provides an ideal opportunity to get the ‘Succeed in Ireland’ message out to the widest possible audience. It provides us with an attentive, favourably disposed audience all across the globe and we are intent on maximising this opportunity.

Last year at this time 124 high-level political meetings including bilateral meetings with President Obama, Prime Minister Cameron, President Hollande, Government Ministers, members of Congress, parliamentarians and key decision-makers across the world took place. I look forward to meeting with a number of influential politicians and businesspeople in Toronto and New York including my counterpart, the Canadian Foreign Minister, Rob Nicholson, Mayor Bill de Blasio in New York and former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

The extensive programme of engagements by the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Ministers will ensure Ireland is firmly on the radar with political and business leaders. Alongside those engagements, the myriad interviews with international media, print, radio, TV and online, will spread our message to people’s homes and offices and give a boost to Tourism Ireland’s (successful) marketing efforts. The estimated reach of St. Patrick’s Day last year, taking all of this into account, was at least 80 million people worldwide. In other words, it was exposure for Ireland that money couldn’t buy.

I urge you to continue your good work here at ConnectIreland with particular emphasis on “Promote Ireland 2015” over the next few weeks – I will be happy to play my part in ensuring that all travelling ministers spread the word about ‘Succeed in Ireland’.

I wish all here continued success.