Ireland’s Ambassadors, Permanent Representatives, and Consuls General from over 90 missions in our global network gathered today, Monday 6 January, to examine significant shifts in the geopolitical landscape as part of the Heads of Missions Conference 2020.
This conference marks 18 months since the launch of the ‘Global Ireland—Ireland’s Global Footprint to 2025’ strategy, which has seen the expansion of Ireland’s diplomatic footprint, as well as a deepening of our presence in many countries. The conference is an opportunity to discuss how Ireland can position itself advantageously to advance its interests and values in a more uncertain and contested world.
Opening the conference Minister of State for European Affairs Helen McEntee, delivered an address on EU and global engagement, and said:
This is a time of challenge to the values that underpin our Union and the bonds that hold us together. This is a time that clearly shows the need to promote and protect our values: to promote them nationally, in our foreign policy, and to reflect them in the work of the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Over the course of the conference, ambassadors and senior diplomats met with senior business leaders from Smurfit Kappa, Intel, and Diageo amongst others to examine the support given by our mission network to advance Irish trade interests in global markets.
The conference also mapped out the scale and complexity of the challenge of climate change. Minister McEntee said:
We must tackle climate change. We will not be forgiven if we fail our people here. Our citizens demand this – in particular our younger ones. Ireland supports the vision and ambition outlined in the Green Deal and will support its implementation, aiming to make Ireland and the EU carbon-neutral by 2050.
Reflecting on Global Ireland and the growth in new Irish missions, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney, T.D., said:
Our expanded overseas network of missions means that our work will have a greater reach and 2020 will be a year of opportunity for Ireland. I want to compliment all the staff of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, both at home and abroad, for all their hard work in support of Irish citizens.
EU Trade Commissioner, Phil Hogan, delivered the keynote address to the conference, in which he discussed the challenges ahead for the EU and Ireland.