Minister of State Cannon T.D. remarks at Copenhagen Embassy Diaspora Event
Speech26 June 2018
I am delighted to be here at the Embassy in Copenhagen tonight and to meet representatives of Ireland and friends of Ireland working here in Denmark in key sectors – education, pharma, shipping, banking, insurance, UN City, architecture, design and NGOs.
I am the Minister with special responsibility for the Diaspora and International Development and as Minister for the Diaspora I am delighted that so many of you have taken the time to come here tonight. I’m looking forward to hearing from as many of you as possible about work and life in Denmark.
Government policy recognises that Ireland has a unique and important relationship with its diaspora that must be nurtured and developed. The Government wants first and foremost to listen – and to drive and foster diaspora engagement and develop two-way engagement. We continue to examine issues affecting those seeking to return to Ireland and want to improve communications and connectivity. Our view is that Ireland’s diaspora is a vibrant, diverse global community, connected to Ireland and to each other.
This year marks Ireland and Denmark’s 45th anniversary of our membership of the European Union. Most of us agree that Ireland and Denmark has been radically transformed for the better during that time. EU membership remains central to the success of Ireland’s open, competitive economy and is the foundation for much of the economic and social progress we have made in the past 45 years.
This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement and I hear that the Embassy together with the Centre for Irish Studies in Aarhus University is planning to organise several events including seminars, and film screenings in the autumn to mark the anniversary and subsequent developments.
The Government is concerned at the slow pace of progress in the Brexit negotiations and is working closely with European partners in the resolution of the outstanding issues.
President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and Chief EU Brexit Negotiator, Michel Barnier, visited Dublin last week. It was an important opportunity for Government and the Commission to take stock of state of play in the negotiations.
President Juncker again emphasised that Ireland has the full backing of the EU and that Irish issues must be dealt with in the Withdrawal Agreement – “Ireland has to be part of the deal". On 19 June last the Joint Statement from EU and UK negotiators was published. The lack of progress on the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland in recent rounds of negotiations is very disappointing.
This week, I am representing Ireland at the Ukraine Reform Conference which takes place at the Danish Foreign Ministry tomorrow and will be opened by the Danish and Ukrainian Prime Ministers. The conference will provide a platform to bring the international community together with the Ukrainian Government, civil society and private sector representatives who are committed to promoting reforms in Ukraine. Ukraine will have an opportunity to showcase recent reform progress, present plans for future reform initiatives and strengthen the dialogue and partnership between Ukraine and the international community.
Ireland is seeking election to the UN Security Council for 2020 and tomorrow’s conference will also be an occasion to engage on behalf of Ireland. Our candidature reflects Ireland’s continuing engagement on issues of international importance and contributing to and promoting the principles of the UN. Our own national history means we have no partisan agenda, we are here to serve the wider good and support the UN and the multilateral system.
This evening, I want to discuss the challenges facing the Irish abroad and to listen to your views. We are focusing on creating more opportunities as part of the economic recovery so that those who left the country because of economic need can now return. For those interested, there is now a range of specific and tailored information, advice and supports available on returning to Ireland.
As many of you are aware the Irish economy has bounced back with strong and broad based economic growth. Most importantly the rate of unemployment is now down below 6% and there is strong demand for well qualified people in many sectors and of course, we would be delighted to welcome all of you to share with us the benefit of the experience and knowledge that you have gained during your time in Denmark.