Honorary Consul for Ireland, Calgary and Southern Alberta
October 8, 2019
Message from your Honorary Consul Ireland in Calgary and Southern Alberta
I recently returned from Ireland where I, along with Laureen Reagan (Honorary Vice Consul Investment and Trade, Calgary) and all the Honorary Consuls for Ireland from around the world, had the immense privilege of attending the inaugural Conference of Honorary Consuls of Ireland. The conference was hosted by The Department of Foreign Affairs with the intention to provide the opportunity for Honorary Consuls General, Honorary Consuls and Honorary Vice Consuls to share experiences, to acknowledge our contribution to Ireland, and to discuss the government’s key priorities.
The Conference took place against the important backdrop of the centenary of the diplomatic service and the landmark initiative ‘Global Ireland 2025’, Ireland’s ambitious program to double the scope and impact of the Irish global footprint by 2025.
The opening reception for the conference was hosted by Mr. Ciarán Cannon TD Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development at the EPIC, The Irish Emigration Museum. Many of you met Mr. Cannon earlier this year when he visited our Irish Centre. If you have not been to the EPIC Museum it is an absolute must see, at the CHQ Building, Custom House Quay, Dublin. The exhibit was designed by the same designers of the Titanic exhibit in Belfast.
The conference was opened with welcome remarks by Niall Burgess, Secretary General, followed by a presentation from ‘Global Ireland’. The intent of ‘Global Ireland’ to double Ireland’s global footprint by 2025, represents the most ambitious renewal and expansion of Ireland’s international presence ever undertaken in terms of diplomacy, culture, business, overseas aid, tourism and trade. Ms. Ann Derwin, Director General, Global Ireland Service and John Concannon, Director General, Global Ireland said, “the initiative is designed to support a renewing of our international presence, ensuring that we are properly equipped for the new challenges we will face in a changing world.” To deliver ‘Global Ireland’ the following five strategic objectives will be pursued:
1. Ireland will build strong strategic political partnerships with the US and Canada and assume a lead role in building stronger transatlantic relations.
2. Ireland will build a mutually beneficial two-way economic relationship, approaching a trillion $US by 2025.
3. Ireland will consolidate, deepen and expand the extraordinary partnerships with our diaspora in the US and Canada doubling the impact of this collaboration in the period to 2025.
4. Ireland will double our impact by promoting our culture and nurturing our reputation across the US and Canada.
5. A strong Government-led ‘Team Ireland’, will double its impact over the next six years.
Pat Breen TD – Minister of state for Trade Employment, Business, EU Single Market and Data protection, spoke about, ‘A Better World’: Irelands New policy for International Development. Ireland is consistently recognised globally as a leader in the delivery of high-quality aid, which is untied. Ireland comes from the stance that:
• Ireland works to end hunger.
• Ireland works to protect
• Ireland works to improve health
• Ireland works to ensure girls have access to education
• Ireland works to prepare young people for the future
• Ireland works to promote democracy and governance
Brendan Rogers, Deputy Secretary General presented on Ireland’s candidature for an elected seat on The United Nations Security Council 2021-2022. Their platform is to approach from the perspective of Ireland’s Empathy, Partnership and Independence
The highlight of the Conference was the first evening when we were transported to Áras an Uachtaráin to a reception hosted by President Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina Higgins. The President was extremely generous with his time and we got to meet the two family dogs.
If you wish to read The President’s speech you can find it at the following link. https://president.ie/en/media-library/speeches/speech-at-a-reception-for-honorary-consuls
Thereafter, Simon Coveney TD Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, hosted dinner for us at Farmleigh House, Phoenix Park. Along with Tanaiste Simon Coveney TD and Helen McEntee, TD Minister of State for European Affairs, we were enlightened about the Irish Government’s efforts to position Ireland for either a deal or no deal BREXIT. These meetings and discussions were lengthy with no answers as the Irish Government itself is completely in the dark at this point. What is clear is that Ireland will have to be prepared for either eventualities, which means an inordinate volume of work in shortening time frames.
The second day continued with meetings on Trade and Promoting Ireland as a destination for Business Investment, Tourism and Education, presented by Eamonn McKee Director General, Trade Division and a presentation by Ireland’s Global Cultural Outreach – Grants- Literature- Film- Culture. Hosted by Eugene Downes Cultural Director
Discussion on Consular Assistance and Consular Services – Sharing Common Challenges and Best Practice, Hosted by Elizabeth McCullough, Consul Director. An overview of Ireland’s Visa Service was presented with much discussion highlighting the need to speed up the process.
We learned about Data Protection and the Implementation of the General Data Protection Regulations in a presentation by Fiona Flood, Director, Security, Coordination and Compliance.
The closing Reception, hosted by Tourism Ireland took place in ‘The Long Room’, Trinity College. ‘The Long Room’ is still an active library and houses the Book of Kells. If you have never been there, I highly recommend it as a must see.
This was an exceptional conference and one I am very proud to have had the opportunity to participate in. The Department of Foreign Affairs is keen to reach out to their diaspora and to double its footprint by 2025. They realise that there is power in the Irish diaspora and the intention is to support Cultural groups and Business to the best of their ability.
Given Ireland’s history of emigration, relations with the diaspora have always been a part of the country’s political, social and economic life. The result of generations of emigration is that today the Irish Nation can be said to stretch far beyond the boundaries of the state.
Who knows maybe one day, the Irish will take over the world!
Is Mise Le Meas:
Honorary Consul for Ireland, Calgary and Southern Alberta
From the left: Honorary Consuls-
Michael Kenneally (Montreal)
Deirdre Halferty (Calgary& Southern Ab)
Doodie Cahill (Edmonton)
Laureen Regan (Calgary)
Mark Dobbin ( Newfoundland)