A new Irish consulate covering the north of England is to be opened in Manchester.
Ireland’s minister for foreign affairs Simon Coveney made the announcement to mark a “virtual visit” to Dublin by the mayors of Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City region, Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram.
Mr Coveney said the new diplomatic presence would further his government’s objective of developing Irish-British relations post-Brexit.
Ireland already has an embassy in London and consulates general in Edinburgh and Cardiff.
It is hoped the new consulate general will open in the first half of next year. In 2019, state business support agency Enterprise Ireland opened an office in Manchester.
“Moving ahead with plans for a new consulate in the north of England is a really strong signal of Ireland’s commitment to the Irish-British relationship,” said Mr Coveney.
“When opened, this new consulate general at the heart of the north of England will upgrade our capacity to advance our commercial interests and our cultural and people-to-people links.
“I am especially delighted to be making this announcement today as the Tanaiste (Leo Varadkar) and I prepare to welcome a virtual visit from Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, and Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region.
“Enhancing our collaboration with regional and local government in Britain will be a big part of our work to deepen Irish-British links.
“We look forward to a valuable exchange with Mayors Burnham and Rotheram today, who between them represent areas with a combined population of 4.3 million people and with deep historic links to Ireland”.
Julie Sinnamon, CEO of Enterprise Ireland, added: “Enterprise Ireland warmly welcomes the announcement of a new consulate general for the north of England.
“The north west of England is a very dynamic business environment.
“Reflective of this, in 2019, Enterprise Ireland opened a second office in the UK, based in Manchester, to develop and sustain Irish export growth to the UK.
“In the north west of England there are particularly strong opportunities in infrastructure, housing, clean energy and transport, healthcare and manufacturing.
“While Brexit introduces challenges and complexity to the market, the UK will continue to be an important and attractive market for Irish enterprise.
“In 2019, Enterprise Ireland client companies achieved the highest ever recorded exports to the UK and overall grew by 2% to 7.9 billion euro.
“We look forward to working with the consulate general to strengthen Ireland’s presence in the region.”