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Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore TD Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade
REBUILDING IRELAND’S REPUTATION When I took on the job of Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade I had one key task in mind: restoring Ireland’s reputation after the damage that Fianna Fáil had done to it, so this Government could begin rebuilding the economy. Following a successful EU Presidency, our election to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations, our year-long Chairmanship in Office of the OSCE, the successful renegotiation of the terms of our EU/IMF bailout, wide and comprehensive consultation regarding our imminent bailout exit, and two and a half years of communicating Ireland’s recovery strategy to our international partners at every available opportunity, we are starting to see results. We are now in a position to promote a positive image of post-crisis Ireland.
ECONOMIC RECOVERY PROMOTING TRADE AND INVESTMENT In 2011, as the Labour Party was elected to Government, Ireland was teetering on the edge of the economic abyss. Since then we have seen several key milestones on the way to economic recovery, all of which have had an international, foreign affairs dimension. We have: ■ torn up the Anglo promissory note ■ renegotiated the terms of our bailout loans ■ saved €10b in debt repayments; €40b in money we won’t now need to borrow ■ secured agreement at EU level to break the vicious link between banks and sovereigns ■ prepared the country for bailout exit this year, against all the odds
ECONOMIC DIPLOMACY Shortly after the formation of the Government, I recalled our Ambassadors to stress the importance of economic diplomacy. With immediate effect, our diplomats began a coordinated lobbying effort for debt relief in every European capital. This reorientation of the Department’s work was of central importance to promoting Ireland’s economic interests abroad.
In 2011, I rebranded my Department as the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, putting trade – Ireland’s economic lifeblood – at the heart of our foreign policy. I also formed the Export Trade Council to coordinate our national efforts across the various Government Departments and State Agencies in order to support our Irish exporters. This year I launched a review of the Government’s Trade, Tourism and Investment Strategy, ‘Trading and Investing in a Smart Economy’ to reassess our approach to international markets and make sure that it is fit for purpose in the current global economic environment. That review is due for completion later this year. We have more than doubled the annual number of ministerial-led Enterprise Ireland trade missions supporting home-grown Irish companies, up from eight in 2011 to 18 in 2013.
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GLOBAL IRISH ECONOMIC FORUM On my recommendation, the third Global Irish Economic Forum was organised by my Department and took place in October. This Forum brought several hundred members of the Global Irish Network to Dublin for a two-day Diaspora event that focussed on job creation and recovery.
SETTING THE AGENDA IN EUROPE During our EU Presidency we prioritised measures that would promote stability, jobs and growth across the EU. As lead negotiator for the European Council on the EU’s seven-year budget to 2020, I secured €960b in funding for agriculture, education, research and innovation and infrastructure. I also ensured that the €6b allocated for youth employment measures would be spent in its first two years.
NORTHERN IRELAND Over the past year I have devoted considerable energy to Northern Ireland, specifically regarding efforts to resolves the outstanding issues of parades, flags, and dealing with the past. I have engaged with community and business leaders in Belfast, Derry and around Northern Ireland alongside engagements with all political leaders, not only in the Assembly and the Executive but with the British and American Governments. The talks chaired by Dr Richard Haass are a significant opportunity to resolve the outstanding issues. I have met and engaged with Dr Haass on a number of occasions recently and will continue to play a key role in the negotiations as they reach a conclusion.
US IMMIGRATION REFORM The plight of thousands of undocumented Irish people living in the United States has been a key focus of my work in the US since 2011. I have lobbied extensively in Washington for comprehensive immigration reform that would allow for a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 50,000-plus Irish emigrants who are living and working in the shadows. I have also pushed for an E3 visa regime to allow for future, legal flows of Irish immigration to the US.
FOREIGN POLICY REVIEW I have initiated a complete review of Ireland’s foreign policy and external relations – the first since the mid 1990s. I intend to make sure that Ireland has the right mix of policies and instruments which will allow us to continue to engage as a responsible global actor, and to protect the interests and values of the Irish people. My Department will this month launch a consultation process as part of that review, and I would invite all party members with an interest in our foreign policy to input into that process.
Eamon Gilmore TD Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 80 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2
Phone: 01 4082018 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.gilmore.ie
facebook.com/ EamonGilmore @EamonGilmore
Published on Dec 12, 2013