Written answers

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Official Engagements

Photo of Seán CroweSeán Crowe (Dublin South West, Sinn Fein)
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162. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the overseas trips he, and the Ministers of State in his Department, have planned between December 2014 and December 2015. [46593/14]

Photo of Charles FlanaganCharles Flanagan (Laois-Offaly, Fine Gael)
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My Department performs a wide range of functions in pursuit of Ireland’s values and interests overseas. These include advancing reconciliation and cooperation on the island of Ireland; representing and advancing Government policies with other States and in international organisations; economic, trade and cultural promotion; front-line consular and passport services to Irish citizens; engaging with Irish communities abroad; and programme management, particularly in Irish Aid priority countries. These tasks require extensive engagement with our international partners, including through face-to-face Ministerial meetings. Trade promotion and economic messaging are key elements in all visits abroad undertaken by Government Ministers. Every effort is made to ensure that, as far as is practicable, opportunities are taken for a substantive economic and promotional dimension to all official visits. An intensive programme of Ministerial-led trade missions is a key commitment in the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs in 2014 and planning is underway for the programme trade missions in 2015. In terms of travel for the remainder of 2014, I intend to accompany the President on his State Visit to China next week and the Ministers of State expect to attend meetings as follows:

Minister of State Sherlock

11-12 December: Foreign Affairs Council (Development), Brussels

3-4 December: OSCE Ministerial Council in Basel

Minister of State Murphy

4-5 December: Justice and Home Affairs Council, Brussels

14 -19 December:Foreign Affairs,General Affairs and European Councils, Brussels

Next year's plans are still under development but I expect to travel to New York in late September 2015 to participate in the General Assembly of the United Nations and to address that body on Irish foreign policy priorities. I will also meet with Foreign Ministers and UN leaders there, to discuss a range of international issues, as well as bilateral issues and Ireland’s candidature for election to a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council in 2020. Given the importance of our economic relationship with the United States, I anticipate, as on previous visits, to prioritise opportunities to advance our economic interests and will work closely with the IDA, Enterprise Ireland and Tourism Ireland on an appropriate economic promotion programme. In addition, I plan to attend EU related meetings, including meetings of the Foreign Affairs Council and Informal Meetings of EU Foreign Ministers, on a regular basisthroughout 2015. I expect that my colleagues will be similarly engaged on EU and other matters. My schedule over the coming months will include a visit to Kiev and, following my recent visit to Cairo to participate in the Gaza reconstruction conference, I intend to visit the Middle East at the earliest opportunity.

Minister of State Deenihan is expected to travel to Washington D.C. in mid-January 2015. Other travel undertaken by Minister Deenihan in 2015 will be planned around ensuring that the Government connects in the most effective possible way with our migrant and diaspora communities.


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