Global Ireland Launch
Monday, 11 June 2018
Thank you. I’m delighted to be here this morning with the Taoiseach and Cabinet colleagues for what is a very important occasion.
‘Global Ireland’ is an initiative which reinforces our position as “an island at the centre of the world”. And it does that not simply by reiterating aspirations around openness and ease of doing business. Instead, here today we have concrete actions that will ensure we remain at the top of the league table internationally for our connectedness and our ability to access investment, trade and tourism opportunities globally.
This is a critical juncture too. We are seeing close to home the profound impacts of a neighbour choosing a more isolated and isolating path. And we are seeing larger allies further afield retreat into protectionism. If these are roads diverging in a wood, we are choosing the path today that leads to new markets, opportunities and horizons, while deepening the connections, particularly in Europe, that have served us so well through the years.
For my Department, we are in a position today to announce 7 new Missions, on top of the 6 new Embassies or Consulates we announced plans for last October.
Today, I can announce that the Government will, in the coming years, open new Embassies in Kiev in Ukraine, in Manila in the Philippines and in Rabat in Morocco – all high potential locations for increased trade for Irish companies. We will also be upgrading our development office in Liberia to a full Embassy.
Beginning next year, we will be opening 3 new Consulates also in Cardiff, in Frankfurt and in Los Angeles. These will reinforce our political and business connections – in places of opportunity for Ireland and Irish companies - in the UK, Germany and the US.
This comes on top of the 6 new Missions which we announced in October and which will all be open by early next year – in Colombia and Chile in Latin America, in New Zealand, Jordan, Mumbai and Vancouver.
As Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade – and indeed stretching back since before my time as Minister for Defence and Minister for Agriculture - the value of our networks abroad to the prosperity and wellbeing of our citizens has always been clear to me.
At the same time, our Mission network abroad, made up of 80 Embassies or Consulates, is modest by international standards. I believe it is prudent and wise to invest now in that global presence.
This plan will extend the consular network that supports and protects Irish citizens and serves Irish communities abroad.
In addition to new Missions, it is important too that we strengthen in key locations where we already have a presence. That’s why we are augmenting our Embassies in Rome, Madrid, Warsaw and The Hague, as we have already done in Paris, Berlin, Brussels and London.
We will be investing in a state-of-the-art Ireland House in Tokyo, just as we will – in due course – be extending our footprint in China. This is an investment in the high-growth economies of the future.
Our diplomatic network has proven its value to the State through the decades - notably during the recent economic downturn and now as we grapple with the challenges of Brexit. Investing in our global presence in the coming years will help safeguard our economic and political wellbeing long into the future.
We also have an obligation to play our full role in addressing global challenges, while also meeting our moral obligations as global citizens.
This why we are seeking a seat on the UN Security Council for 2021 and 2022, and the Taoiseach and I will shortly be launching that campaign.
We see this as a natural role for Ireland. We are an island which has experienced conflict and learned lessons in terms of building peace. We have made a strong contribution to the UN in the fields of sustainable development, humanitarian assistance, disarmament, and human rights. And UN membership has been, and will continue to be, at the very heart of Irish foreign policy.
So we will presenting our candidacy for the UN Security Council because we believe that we should step forward and play our part in support of multilateralism at a time of significant global instability.
The development of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals was a key international initiative in which Ireland played a leadership role, together with Kenya. Those 17 Sustainable Development Goals set ambitious targets to be met by the year 2030. And today, with this document, we are also making a significant commitment of our own for 2030.
We are committing today that the Irish government will reach the UN target of allocating 0.7% of our Gross National Income to Overseas Development Assistance, or ODA, by 2030. And we will be working with the Department of Public Expenditure over the coming period to outline what the credible pathway towards that target will be.
This target and timeline will be accompanied by a revitalised Irish Aid programme. I will be launching a public consultation phase on a new White Paper on our aid programme shortly.
We have a very strong aid programme, as the OECD regularly acknowledges. But there is scope to deepen our focus on poverty reduction and humanitarian assistance. I saw some of the compelling reasons for this support on my visit to Jordan and Palestine last week.
We also want to look at transformational areas for development cooperation, like a strengthened focus on the education and empowerment of girls. Our ambition is for Ireland to be a global leader in many of these areas.
So today is an exciting and landmark day. Ireland is reinforcing our choice of engagement and connectedness internationally, rather than isolation and protectionism. And we are building the foundations of this enterprise through a dramatically expanded global presence and a more active than ever commitment to shaping the world around us.