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Archive for Ireland

Newsline: UK rejects EU request for ‘mini-embassy’ in Belfast after Brexit

The British minister leading negotiations on the post-Brexit Northern Ireland protocol has rejected a European Union request for what he described as “a mini-embassy” in Belfast. The EU wants to open an office in Northern Ireland to monitor checks and controls on goods crossing the Irish Sea after the end of the current transition period. But Michael Gove told a committee of MPs that Britain saw no reason for any permanent presence for the EU apart from its delegation’s headquarters in London. “Of course it is the case that the EU has the right to monitor the operation of what UK officials are doing but there’s no need for there to be a mini-embassy in Belfast in order for that to happen,” he told the House of Commons committee on the future relationship with the EU. (https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/uk/gove-rejects-eu-request-for-mini-embassy-in-belfast-after-brexit-1.4239223) In a letter to the European Commission, paymaster general Penny Mordaunt said any necessary monitoring could be carried out by means of ad hoc visits by EU officials to the North. Under the protocol, goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland will be subject to EU customs controls unless they are explicitly exempt.

Newsline: Russian embassy in Dublin monitored after reports of construction during coronavirus restrictions

Gardai are monitoring the Embassy of Russia in Dublin after receiving reports of construction work being carried out during the coronavirus lockdown. The embassy has being constructing a controversial new consular building on its grounds in South County Dublin. The Government banned construction work as part of its clamp down on non-essential activities during the coronavirus emergency. Last week, An Garda Siochana confirmed they received complaints about work continuing on at embassy’s new building despite the lockdown. “After receiving reports of non-essential work taking place at a construction site on Orwell Road, An Garda Síochána have being monitoring the site,” a garda spokesperson said. The embassy said “generally speaking” construction work stopped at their compound but said necessary technological work did continue. “The Embassy fully respects all measures introduced by the Irish Government under current Covid-19 conditions,” a spokesperson said. “Generally speaking, the construction of the Consular building has been halted. There is, though, a small amount of technologically necessary work – which is clearly deemed essential – and has to be completed. “It is done by the Russian workers with all necessary precautions and social distancing. Furthermore, they live at the Embassy’s compound (which has been COVID-free up to now) and comply with all restrictions introduced by authorities,” she added. (https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/gardai-monitoring-russian-embassy-after-reports-of-construction-during-coronavirus-restrictions-39120792.html) The Embassy sparked controversy two years ago when it emerged it planned to quadruple the size of its premises in Dublin. Construction on a substantial new building to the front of the compound was nearing completion last week.

Newsline: Ambassador to US warns Irish on short visas to go home

Ireland’s ambassador to the United States, Dan Mulhall has warned the Irish in North America on short term visas to return home. As Washington DC faces its third week of shutdown, it’s been a busy time for the Irish embassy in the US capital. For the 20-plus staff here there has been only one priority — getting Irish citizens in the US home. “In a crisis like this only one thing really matters and that’s the welfare of Irish citizens,” says Ireland’s ambassador to the United States, Dan Mulhall, speaking by phone. (https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/ambassador-to-us-warns-irish-on-short-visas-to-go-home-1.4217074) As one of Ireland’s longest-serving diplomats, he is no stranger to crisis. As ambassador to Malaysia and Thailand in the early 2000s, he was in Kuala Lumper when the tsunami of 2004 hit.

Newsline: Embassy asks Irish to book €3000 emergency flight out of Peru

Around 100 Irish people stranded in Peru have been advised to book an emergency flight costing over €3,000. An email sent from the Irish Embassy to the stranded citizens said airline Avianca are considering running a charter flight for them – but that if it does go ahead it’s expected to cost around $3,500 per head. (https://www.corkbeo.ie/news/embassy-asks-irish-book-3000-17949307) The South American state this week suspended all flights as they launched a military lockdown in a bid to battle the coronavirus. Tourists were given little to no notice of the measures and up to 100 Irish were left stuck. The official government breakdowns show that the UK and Ireland had around 370 citizens there at the time with around 250 failing to get out before the lockdown kicked in.

Newsline: Irish diplomats had lavish embassies decked out with €100,000 worth of art and crafts

Pampered diplomats at the Irish Embassy in London had their plush digs decked out with art and crafts worth €100,000 this year. The splurge comes as there are still more than 10,000 homeless here at home – including 4,000 children. The Irish Mirror has uncovered lavish spending of the Department of Foreign Affairs on art for our embassies around the world. (https://www.irishmirror.ie/news/irish-news/pampered-irish-diplomats-lavish-embassies-21165690) But it is the money spent on art for the diplomatic corps in London that is most jaw-dropping, where buying paintings at €15,000 a pop was common and paying hundreds of euros for bowls the norm.

Newsline: Ireland plans to open embassy in Ukraine

Ireland plans to open a diplomatic mission in Ukraine next year, the press service of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said. According to the report, this issue was discussed at a meeting between Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko and Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney. (https://www.ukrinform.net/rubric-polytics/2832230-ireland-plans-to-open-embassy-in-ukraine.html) “The Ukrainian minister welcomed the Irish side’s intentions to open the Embassy of Ireland in Ukraine in 2020. The sides agreed that the launch of the Irish diplomatic mission will turn over a new leaf in bilateral relations and create additional opportunities for their progressive development in many areas,” the report said.

Newsline: Ireland opens its first Embassy in Colombia

Colombia took the first step when it opened its first Embassy in Dublin last year, and in January, Ireland reciprocated, with its first-ever diplomatic representation in the country. Ireland’s presence in Colombia dates to back to Simón Bolívar and the Independence campaign when 1,000 Irish volunteers left Europe in the 19th century under the command of the Cock-born General Daniel Florence O’Leary (1801- 1854). “We have a very long history with Colombia,” says Ambassador Milton, recalling one of Bolívar’s closest confidants and well-known figure in Colombian history. (https://thecitypaperbogota.com/news/republic-of-ireland-opens-its-first-embassy-in-colombia/21887) The opening of an Irish Embassy in Bogotá was, therefore, the Ambassador explains, “in the offing for some time” and a decision that comes as Ireland expands its missions’ network across Latin America.

Newsline: US citizen held in Moscow on espionage charges seeks Irish consular assistance

A former US Marine arrested last week on espionage charges in Russia has sought Irish consular assistance. Canadian-born Paul Whelan is a US citizen and also holds an Irish passport. He was arrested while he was in Moscow to attend a wedding. The Department of Foreign Affairs said: “The Embassy of Ireland in Moscow has requested consular access to an Irish citizen currently detained in Russia after receiving a request for assistance. “The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will provide all possible and appropriate assistance in relation to this case.” Mr Whelan is also a British citizen and is seeking assistance from all embassies of countries of which he is a citizen.


Newsline: Ireland’s 10 new embassies to open this year to tap into new markets

Opening 10 new Irish embassies in 2019, with a further three openings scheduled in 2020, is linked to Ireland’s Brexit strategy, according to Tánaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney. In announcing the government’s plans for this year, the Tánaiste also defended the costly practice of leasing, rather than buying property abroad. By the end of 2019 Ireland will have opened the following new missions: Vancouver (completed), Wellington (completed), Monrovia (completed), Mumbai (Q1, 2019), Bogotá (Q1, 2019), Santiago de Chile (Q1, 2019), Amman (Q1, 2019), Cardiff (Q2, 2019), Los Angeles (Q4, 2019), Frankfurt (Q4, 2019). The government is planning a further three openings in 2020: Kyiv (Q4, 2020), Manila (Q4, 2020), and Rabat (Q4, 2020). Coveney said “there is an element of a Brexit strategy” in opening these new embassies in terms of some sectors having an over-reliance on trade with the UK, stating that there are new markets Irish businesses can tap into.


Newsline: Brexit vote prompts New Zealand to open embassy in Ireland

New Zealand opened its first ever embassy in Ireland with a traditional Maori blessing and a visit by the country’s deputy prime minister. The embassy, on Merrion Row in Dublin city centre, will help cement existing ties with the Pacific and benefit future trade relationships between Ireland and New Zealand, officials said. The new ambassador, Brad Burgess, was joined by government officials and deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs Winston Peters for the ceremony. Mr Peters said the opening of the embassy was triggered by Britain’s vote to leave the European Union two years ago. “The moment the Brexit decision happened on the 23rd of June 2016, it became very clear that we would have to, with respect to Ireland, set up an embassy here.” It was “one of the first decisions we made that we could no longer think of servicing out of London, which was what had been going on in the past. That’s why we made the decision”, Mr Peters said. Mr Peters said New Zealand needed a close relationship with Ireland “and vice versa”.