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Minister of State Ciarán Cannon, TD - Reception with Irish Community in Vietnam

· I am delighted to be in Vietnam this week to strengthen the bilateral relationship between Ireland and Vietnam. This is my second visit to Vietnam.
· As Minister with responsibility for the Diaspora and International Development, I have a strong commitment to promoting Ireland’s engagement in Vietnam and in the Mekong sub-region (Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar) in areas of development cooperation and, of course, I have a particular interest in connecting with and supporting our diaspora.
· It is a great pleasure to be able to combine both my portfolios during this visit and to meet so many of our Irish community, alumni of our higher education institutes, and our education partners here this evening.
· Yesterday I visited Irish Aid’s funded project in Hoa Binh province where support from Ireland is assisting ethnic minorities on their path to sustainable development. Ireland remains committed to Vietnam as a development partner. Our priorities continue to be addressing rural and ethnic minority poverty, the strengthening of grassroots and civil society capacity to deliver poverty reduction, and the bilateral exchange of experience of economic development
· Today I met with my counterparts in the Ministries for Foreign Affairs, Industry and Trade, and Planning and Investment and I had the opportunity to discuss a wide range of issues with them. I also witnessed the launching of a Vietnam Ireland Bilateral Education Exchange project researching climate resilient agriculture to be implemented by Vietnam National University of Agriculture and NUI Galway.
· I know that, in line with Ireland’s international education strategy, our Embassy in Vietnam has been actively facilitating the development of partnerships between Irish and Vietnamese universities and third-level institutions, through a number of initiatives. I am delighted to welcome some of our key partners from Vietnam’s Higher Education Institutions this evening and I look forward to having the opportunity to hear more about your partnerships with our HEIs.
· I had the opportunity to meet some of our Irish community and friends shortly after my arrival in Hanoi at the wonderful Hanoi Pride event. It was a great pleasure to see so many of our diaspora and ‘friends of Ireland’ come together under the banner of ‘Team Ireland’ to support and promote equality and diversity.
· Ireland has a very strong bond to our diaspora. While we have 6 million Irish living on the island of Ireland, we have nearly 70 million around the world who have a connection to Ireland.
· You are our great asset, and you bring immense pride to our country in flying our flag abroad. I am delighted to hear and to see that we have a growing and vibrant Irish community in Hanoi and throughout Vietnam.
· I know that our community here in Hanoi plays a great role in promoting Ireland – not only in terms of your engagement with promotional events but more broadly through your promotion of the best of our values through your engagement in and contribution to Vietnam’s society and development. I am delighted to have the opportunity to express the appreciation of the Government of Ireland for your contribution to the promotion of Ireland, both individually and collectively.
· The Government has a strong commitment to engage with and provide support to our communities abroad, and I want to express my thanks to those of you who took the time to provide very useful feedback in a survey on diaspora needs conducted by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade earlier this year, which will allow us to identify areas in which we can strengthen our engagement.
· As part of this commitment, we are proud to provide support to those with a passion for our sports and culture, and I look forward to seeing a great display from the Viet Celts at the Asia Gaelic Games in Bangkok this weekend.
· I know that many of you who are here this evening are actively engaged in promoting and supporting Irish cultural events, including during our St Patrick’s Day celebrations. It is heartening to see our community come together to organise such events to celebrate our own culture but also to extend the hand of friendship and inclusion to our host country.
· In this context, I am delighted to see that our Vietnamese alumni who have studied in Ireland maintain such strong links with, and affection for, Ireland on their return home. It is wonderful to see not only the important and valuable contribution that so many of our scholarship fellows are making to sustainable and equitable development in Vietnam, but also your invaluable role in acting as ambassadors for Ireland, for which I want to sincerely thank you.


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