Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Trade, Darragh O’Brien TD has said that more substantial capital investment is required if the Government is to deliver on its commitment to double Ireland’s global footprint by 2025.
The Deputy made his comments following the announcement that €2m has been allocated to the initiative in Budget 2018.
O’Brien commented, “A number of months ago the Taoiseach made a very bold commitment to double Ireland’s global footprint by 2025, yet just a modest €2m has been budgeted to fully develop this initiative.
“There is no doubt that we should welcome Minister Coveney’s decision to open new diplomatic missions in Chile, Colombia, Jordan, Vancouver and Mumbai on a phased basis throughout 2018 and 2019.
“My concern however, is that it is clear that significantly more investment will be required in the years ahead if the Government is to deliver on their ambitious target.
He added, “Any measure to increase our diplomatic presence overseas requires a clear road-map to ensure that this commitment is delivered upon.
“Considering the grave challenges that Brexit will impose particularly over the coming months, this Government must be assiduous in their research of new markets, and strategic in their thinking.
“In light of Britain’s impending exit from the European Union it’s important that Ireland makes moves to increase its presence across Europe also, however, the degree of capital announced yesterday will simply not fund an adequate response to diplomacy overseas.
“If this initiative is to be anything more than the PR it has proven to be to date, or indeed prove to be of any substantial worth, then Ireland must specifically target resources towards the countries and regions where we can have the greatest impact and return.
“The €2m announced in this budget is modest, even more so when we consider the €5m ring fenced to fund the Government’s spin unit. Going forward the Government must ensure that their commitments are matched with adequate investment.
“I intend to continue to urge the Minister and his Department to publish a focused, detailed and phased strategy which outlines priority regions. It is equally important that there will be an opportunity to debate this plan in the Oireachtas,” concluded Deputy O’Brien.