To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will further elaborate on his plans to double Ireland's global footprint by 2025; the criteria being used to determine the way in which this strategic plan will be achieved; if this plan has been fully costed; if funding has been ringfenced for this plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
REPLY The Department of the Taoiseach is leading a steering group of relevant Departments and agencies and is coordinating the Government’s plan to double Ireland’s global footprint by 2025. This will be ready for consideration by Government in the coming weeks, and it is envisaged that the initiative will be launched to coincide with the St Patrick’s Day period. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will feed into, and support, this process.
Our expanded network will enhance Ireland’s visibility globally, extending our influence and will position us for trade and investment growth in new and existing markets. It will also benefit travelling citizens and engagement with the Diaspora and will involve reaching out to our Diaspora and exploring new and creative platforms for engagement. Expanding our presence and influence abroad is also about a broader re-doubling of our effort in the fight against global poverty and hunger and for sustainable development through the Irish Aid programme.
In addition to the broadening of our Diplomatic Network the Department is also taking steps to deepen the existing network, including in key areas to address the impact of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
The question of costs for 2018 was considered as part of the annual Departmental budgetary process. €2 million was allocated in Budget 2018 to cover initial outlays incurred by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Any additional expenditure for future years will be decided via the Departmental budgetary process. Decisions on expenditure will be consistent with value for money principles and provide clear benefits for the State and will depend on a range of factors, including staff and accommodation needs.
Work has begun on the initial phase of the expansion of Ireland’s Diplomatic Network which includes the Government decision to open new Embassies in Santiago, Chile; Bogotá, Colombia; Amman, Jordan; and Wellington, New Zealand; and new Consulates General in Vancouver, Canada and Mumbai, India.