Justice and Equality minister to London for St. Patrick’s

Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald, T.D., will travel to London this weekend to begin a St. Patrick's visit

Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald, T.D., will travel to London this weekend to begin a St. Patrick’s visit

Today (Friday, 11 March) the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan TD, announced the 2016 programme of St. Patrick’s Day Ministerial travel, which will see the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and eight ministers travel abroad this year to six priority markets for the promotion of trade, tourism, investment and education services.

The destinations reflect a strong emphasis on trade and diaspora links and have been identified as priority destinations by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade following consultations with the embassy and consulate network and state agencies including Enterprise Ireland, Tourism Ireland, Bord Bia and Science Foundation Ireland.

With the international profile of St. Patrick’s Day the envy of countries around the world, the programme of visits provides a very valuable and unique annual opportunity to promote Ireland abroad, develop our trade and economic links with overseas markets, as well as connect with the Irish diaspora, not least in this historic 1916 Centenary Year.

The 2016 programme is, however, significantly reduced from that delivered in 2015. It will focus on trade, investment and tourism promotion in a smaller number of destinations in North America, Europe, and Asia. In each location, ministers will undertake a number of meetings with political figures and support Irish community and trade events organised by the embassy network, Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland, and Tourism Ireland.

The most significant meeting will be the Taoiseach’s meeting with the US President, Barack Obama, in Washington DC.

Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald, T.D., will travel to London this weekend to begin a St. Patrick's visit

Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald, T.D., will travel to London. Ireland enjoys a uniquely close and comprehensive relationship with Britain, not just politically but also on the trade, investment, tourism, cultural and Irish community fronts.

Bilateral trade in both goods and services amounts to approximately €1.2 billion per week or over €62 billion per year. Trade with the UK is particularly significant for Irish food and drink producers; it accounted for 41% of exports in 2015. Both Ireland and the UK also invest heavily in each other’s economies – Irish investment supports 200,000 jobs in the UK and UK investment supports 200,000 jobs in Ireland. In terms of FDI, the UK is the third largest investor in Ireland, after the US and Germany. As of January 2016, there are 103 UK IDA client companies operating in Ireland with over 6,800 employees.

Visitor numbers from Great Britain to Ireland have increased significantly over the past number of years. Great Britain is now the largest single market for tourism to the island of Ireland, delivering almost 50% of all overseas visitors and around one-third of all overseas tourism revenue.

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