Brexit: New consulate to boost Welsh-Irish trade

Denise Hanrahan
Image caption New consul general Denise Hanrahan wants to build on the "strong relationship" between the two Celtic nations

Maintaining strong economic links with Wales whatever the outcome of Brexit is a key goal of the new Irish Consulate, the consul general has said.

Denise Hanrahan has taken the role at the consulate in Cardiff, which has reopened after closing in 2009.

Ireland is Wales' fourth largest trading partner with 85 Irish companies employing about 5,500 people in Wales, according to the Irish government.

Ms Hanrahan said: "We want that strong relationship to continue long term."

She added: "Ireland's goal is to have a comprehensive and close relationship with the UK, whatever the outcome of the Brexit process.

"Our goal as a consulate is to foster the Irish-Welsh part of that relationship."

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Image caption Staff at the temporary consulate are looking for a permanent base to cover all of Wales

The new consulate in Cardiff Bay is among the first of at least 26 new diplomatic missions opening around the world as part of the Global Ireland initiative.

Ms Hanrahan told BBC Wales' Sunday Politics it was "a wonderful time" to open a consulate because "the future is bright".

"[Ireland and Wales] have a strong relationship on many levels," she said.

"There are academic links, trade links, there's an Irish community here, Irish studies are going on at the University of Aberystwyth.

"So as a consulate, our role is to build on the great work already going on and identify opportunities to bring together different sectors and make communication and mutual understanding as simple as possible."

The Welsh Government also has a full-time representative based in the British Embassy in Dublin and said it was "heartening" to see the Irish consulate established.

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Image caption Wales and Ireland have a 'strong relationship on many levels', says Ms Hanrahan

On a visit to Ireland last week, International Relations Minister Eluned Morgan said the Irish Republic was "one of our most important economic partners".

"The uncertainty over Brexit is not helping the situation, but we have seen a 60% increase in our exports to Ireland, so it's not all doom and gloom," she added.

"There is a commitment between our governments to cooperate, as far as possible, on making sure that relationship continues, irrespective of the Brexit outcome."

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