Embassy debate should focus on trade potential

February 15th, 2012 - Pat Breen

Fine Gael Clare TD and Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, Pat Breen, has said that while the debate on the closure of the Vatican embassy is ongoing, we should instead be focussing on how much of a trade return our network of diplomatic missions is delivering. Deputy Breen added that he believes it will be possible to find a cost efficient solution to the Vatican issue.

“Ireland is a small, open economy, and we need to do all we can to ensure we are maximising our overseas trade potential. Our embassy network plays a huge role in this. While the current debate has focussed on the future of the Vatican embassy, I believe we should instead be talking about how our foreign missions are delivering for us in terms of economic return.

“This is best illustrated if we take a look at where we our presence is lacking; we have only two embassies in South America, despite the huge trade possibilities the continent represents. In contrast, we have a strong diplomatic presence in the United States, the benefits of which are clearly demonstrated by the high level of American Foreign Direct Investment in Ireland.

“We