Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Darragh O’Brien TD has taken Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to task for his claim that he plans to double the country’s diplomatic presence overseas by 2025. The Taoiseach was unable to provide any detail whatsoever regarding costs or even what countries we would be targeting.

Deputy O’Brien commented, “Mr Varadkar’s fondness for PR is well established and it is clear that he and his office have struggled to find reasons for his current visit to Canada. However, reheating this non-announcement, which has already been made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney and presenting it as a major development is too much.

“The Taoiseach’s announcement fell apart almost immediately, when he admitted that there is no plan, no costings, no priorities in terms of countries and no schedule.

“This is the second time in just a month that a promise has been made by Leo Varadkar without even basic costings or details in place.

“Of course the other irony in this latest PR stunt is that Mr Varadkar’s time in Cabinet has been a period of halting diplomatic expansion and actually closing embassies.

He added, “Fianna Fáil has repeatedly called for investment in our foreign affairs and trade presence overseas in response to the dangers posed by Brexit. This position now seems to have been adopted by Fine Gael, which is welcome; however the rhetoric and PR announcements have not been matched by Government action.

“In information recently obtained by my party, we learned that key State agencies including Enterprise Ireland and the IDA have filled just 17 of 70 positions established to assist firms and employers preparing for possible post-Brexit tariffs or trade barriers.

“It is clear that we do need to significantly beef up our diplomatic presence overseas. For it to be real and meaningful, we need a conversation about where we should be concentrating the effort and how much it is going to take to pay for it. The Taoiseach would be much better advised to get involved in the substance of this issue, rather than re-announcing non-plans in an effort to look like something is being done.”