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Minister Flanagan to meet local political leaders during visit to Liverpool and Manchester

Minister Charlie Flanagan to meet local political leaders, Irish community and business contacts during pre-referendum visit to Liverpool and Manchester

  • Minister will encourage Irish citizens living in the UK to exercise their right to vote and will also highlight importance of the Ireland-UK trading relationship

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan TD, is today beginning a two-day pre-referendum visit to Liverpool and Manchester. The visit takes place just three weeks ahead of the referendum on the UK’s EU membership.

In the course of the visit, Minister Flanagan will be reaching out to Irish citizens living and working in the UK who are eligible to vote, encouraging them to exercise that right. Minister Flanagan will also highlight the importance of the trading relationship between Ireland and the UK and Irish investment in the UK.

Minister Flanagan’s visit forms part of a coordinated programme of ministerial engagements aimed at reaching out to Irish citizens living and working in the UK who are eligible to vote.

Minister Flanagan said:

I know that for some voters, the Irish perspective may be one of the factors they consider when informing themselves about the issues at stake in the forthcoming referendum. In particular, I know from previous visits that there is a strong interest among the Irish communities living in the UK. I am delighted to be visiting two cities with historic people-to-people and trade relationships with Ireland. Our own experience of referendums had made clear that a well informed public debate is really important and I hope to make a small contribution to that debate by explaining our perspective on this critical referendum which, of course, can only be decided by the electorate of the UK on 23 June.

In Liverpool, Minister Flanagan will speak at a panel event at the Institute for Irish Studies in the University of Liverpool, along with Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn MP, Conor McGinn MP and the co-chair of the independent Irish4Europe group, Gráinne Mellon. Minister Flanagan will tell the audience:

I am excited by the next steps Ireland, Liverpool and this dynamic region of England can take together in the coming years for each other’s mutual benefit. Let’s do this work together with both countries in the EU rather than under a cloud of uncertainty. That’s the Irish perspective I offer and I urge everyone to be active in this debate and to cast their vote on 23 June”.

Minister Flanagan will also meet with the Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, to discuss the referendum debate and to highlight the potential for further expansion in links between Ireland and Liverpool in the context of the UK’s focus on political and economic reforms aimed at the “Northern Powerhouse”, encompassing major population centres in the north of England.

Highlighting the scale of Irish business investment in the region, Minister Flanagan will visit the Irish-owned ABP Group’s state-of-the-art beef plant at Ellesmere, which employs over 700 people.
His visit will move on to Manchester, where he will meet with the Interim Mayor, Tony Lloyd and will participate at a community event at the Irish World Heritage Centre. In his address to the event the Minister will say to the audience:

I hope that you might think of home when you go to cast your vote. To think of the impact of this once-in-a-generation decision on everyone here and everyone in Ireland”.

Minister Flanagan’s visit will conclude in Manchester tomorrow with a business breakfast hosted by the British Irish Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce. In his remarks, he will emphasise the importance and scale of the two way trade between the UK and Ireland, which stands at around €1.2bn per week, while transport links include up to nine daily flights from Dublin to Manchester. His address will emphasise the role of the EU in opening up the skies and facilitating the thriving bilateral trade relationship between the countries.


Press Office
1 June 2016


Note for Editors:

The most recent information on the Irish Government’s position on the EU referendum, including remarks by Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny can be viewed on the Irish Government News Service.

Minister Flanagan’s visit to Liverpool and Manchester is one of several visits being organised as part of a programme of engagements to be undertaken in Britain by the Irish Government in advance of the 23 June.

Irish citizens resident in the UK, over 18, are entitled to register to vote in the EU referendum. Registration closes on 7 June.

According to the 2011 census, 1.4% of the total Liverpool population and 1.3% of the total Manchester population are made up of residents born on the island of Ireland, and of course, there are many more who have Irish heritage.

Manchester has a yearly Manchester Irish Festival and one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the UK – 200,000 people were expected to turn out in 2016.

Since 2003, there has been an annual Liverpool Irish Festival, which celebrates the cultural links between Ireland and Liverpool. The festival has gone from strength to strength and now delivers over 60 different events over 10 days in October, with over 50 partners from across Liverpool and Ireland. Its diverse programme includes traditional and contemporary music, poetry, literature, visual arts, and sporting events.

For further information or requests for pictures contact our Press Office or the Embassy of Ireland in London.