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Minister Flanagan announces 2016 Programme of St. Patrick’s Day Visits

Diplomatic Relations, Commemorations, International Relations, Press Releases, Ireland, 2016

Minister Flanagan announces 2016 Programme of St. Patrick’s Day Ministerial Visits

Today (Friday, 11 March) the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan TD, announced the 2016 programme of St. Patrick’s Day Ministerial travel, which will see the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and eight ministers travel abroad this year to six priority markets for the promotion of trade, tourism, investment and education services.

The destinations reflect a strong emphasis on trade and diaspora links and have been identified as priority destinations by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade following consultations with the embassy and consulate network and state agencies including Enterprise Ireland, Tourism Ireland, Bord Bia and Science Foundation Ireland.

With the international profile of St. Patrick’s Day the envy of countries around the world, the programme of visits provides a very valuable and unique annual opportunity to promote Ireland abroad, develop our trade and economic links with overseas markets, as well as connect with the Irish diaspora, not least in this historic 1916 Centenary Year.

The 2016 programme is, however, significantly reduced from that delivered in 2015. It will focus on trade, investment and tourism promotion in a smaller number of destinations in North America, Europe, and Asia. In each location, ministers will undertake a number of meetings with political figures and support Irish community and trade events organised by the embassy network, Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland, and Tourism Ireland.

The most significant meeting will be the Taoiseach’s meeting with the US President, Barack Obama, in Washington DC.

An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny

USA (Washington DC)

An Tánaiste, Joan Burton

Italy (Rome, Milan)

Minister Charles Flanagan


Minister Frances Fitzgerald

UK (London)

Minister Richard Bruton

France (Paris)

Minister Brendan Howlin


Minister Heather Humphreys

USA (Boston)

Minister Paschal Donohoe

Spain (Madrid)

Minister Alan Kelly

USA (Sacramento, Silicon Valley/San Francisco, San Diego, LA)

Government Chief Whip and Minister of State Paul Kehoe

USA (Philadelphia, Albany, Trenton, Savannah)

Note for Editors:


The Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, T.D., will visit Washington D.C. for a series of high-level political engagements, including a bilateral meeting and traditional presentation of Shamrock to President Obama and a lunch with Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, while Government Chief Whip and Minister of State, Paul Kehoe, T.D., will have a broad US programme taking in Philadelphia, the New York Metropolitan area and Savannah.

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charles Flanagan, T.D., will visit New York City, and participate in the St. Patrick’s Day parade on 17 March. The 2016 parade represents an historic first for the New York parade, as it is the first year in which LGBT groups will march behind their own banners. The Minister’s programme will include a range of high-level political and Irish community engagements, in addition to business-focussed events. New York State has 2.5 million people claiming Irish ancestry, and is a world leader in the tech, media, financial, educational and pharma industries. Recent IDA jobs announcements from the tri-state (New York, New Jersey and Connecticut) area have included: Prudential (New Jersey) 330 Jobs, Squarespace (New York City) 175 jobs, Pond 5 (New York) 30 Jobs, Smartling (New York City) 30 jobs. Minister Flanagan will also address some trade related events in the Washington DC area.

Minister Heather Humphreys, T.D., will visit Boston, the most Irish of all large metropolitan areas in the US, with 23% of the population claiming Irish heritage. The GAA is very active in the area with 40 teams currently playing and using the facilities at Canton. The State of Massachusetts is also a highly-important trade and investment partner for Ireland, with Massachusetts importing $1.6 billion worth of goods from Ireland last year. Massachusetts-based companies account for over 14,000 jobs in Ireland. These include jobs in sectors such as medical devices (Boston Scientific), biotechnology (Genzyme) and electronic equipment (Analog Devices).

Minister Alan Kelly, T.D., will travel to the San Francisco region, taking in Sacramento, Silicon Valley/San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles. Forty per cent of the FDI to Ireland from the US comes from the Silicon Valley area, and there are over 190 companies based in Ireland from the West Coast, employing 36,000 people. In the last eighteen months a number of US West Coast headquartered US Corporates, including Yahoo!, eBay, Symantec, Twitter, Apple and Facebook have all announced expansions and Airbnb, Dropbox and Zendesk have all established new international operations in Ireland.

The region is also home to a growing number of young Irish entrepreneurs who have founded or developed companies in the San Francisco Bay Area, along with a growing number of young, highly skilled, Irish employees of the US multinationals who have transferred to the west coast to avail of career development opportunities within their companies. There are approx. 9,000 Irish born people living in the greater Bay Area.

Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald, T.D., will travel to London. Ireland enjoys a uniquely close and comprehensive relationship with Britain, not just politically but also on the trade, investment, tourism, cultural and Irish community fronts.

Bilateral trade in both goods and services amounts to approximately €1.2 billion per week or over €62 billion per year. Trade with the UK is particularly significant for Irish food and drink producers; it accounted for 41% of exports in 2015. Both Ireland and the UK also invest heavily in each other’s economies - Irish investment supports 200,000 jobs in the UK and UK investment supports 200,000 jobs in Ireland. In terms of FDI, the UK is the third largest investor in Ireland, after the US and Germany. As of January 2016, there are 103 UK IDA client companies operating in Ireland with over 6,800 employees.

Visitor numbers from Great Britain to Ireland have increased significantly over the past number of years. Great Britain is now the largest single market for tourism to the island of Ireland, delivering almost 50% of all overseas visitors and around one-third of all overseas tourism revenue.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin, T.D., will visit India, one of the world’s fastest-growing major economies in 2015 with a growth rate of 7.5 percent. Ireland is keen to increase its visibility in India in the areas of education and the ICT and pharmaceutical industries. IDA Ireland has a significant pipeline of potential investments from India, while indigenous Irish exports to India are growing at more than 20 percent per annum. Tourist numbers are also growing strongly with approximately 27,000 Indian visitors visiting Ireland in 2015. This visit builds on the momentum created by the visit to Ireland of President Modi to Ireland last September.

The Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, T.D., will travel to Italy, an important tourism market for Ireland which saw 25% growth in visitors last year, and Ireland's 9th largest export trading partner with total bilateral trade valued at €11.42 billion in 2014. Her programme will build on the trade and political links strengthened by Ireland’s participation in Expo 2015 in Milan, and the State Visit of President Higgins to Italy the same year.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, T.D., will visit Paris. France, is currently Ireland’s largest export market globally for seafood & lamb, fourth largest source of inward investment with 56 IDA-assisted companies in Ireland, employing 6,230 people, fourth largest source of visitors, with 505,000 visiting in 2015, and Ireland’s fifth largest merchandise trading partner;

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe, T.D., will visit Madrid. Last year also saw an estimated 343,000 Spaniards travel to Ireland – a record total and an increase of 18% over the comparative figures for 2014. Ireland remains a particularly attractive destination for Spanish students and those seeking to learn English, with at least 35,000 students travelling to the country each year. Spain remains Ireland’s eighth largest overall trading partner, third largest export destination for Irish seafood, and fifth largest tourism market, with total trade between the two countries standing at approximately €7.7 billion per year.


DFAT Press Office

11 March 2016