Wales politics

Irish consulate to reopen in Cardiff

Leo Varadkar Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Leo Varadkar's Irish government is planning to reopen a consulate in Cardiff

Ireland will reopen its consulate in Cardiff later this year.

It comes after the country closed its Welsh diplomatic office in 2009 in the midst of the financial crisis.

The move is a "concrete recognition" of the importance of sustaining political and economic ties with Wales after Brexit, the Irish government said.

It is expected to open by June 2019. Planning for where it would be based is currently underway, the government added.

"The United Kingdom is Ireland's nearest neighbour and a hugely significant economic partner. Maintaining and growing our relationship beyond any UK exit from the European Union is paramount," a spokesman for the department said.

"The re-opening of the Consulate General in Cardiff would be an important element in deepening this key partnership.

"It is a concrete recognition of the importance of our political and economic ties with Wales and sustaining those links after Brexit."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The consulate would aim to maintain ties with Wales

The spokesman said Wales is Ireland's fourth largest trading partner, with 85 Irish companies holding a presence in Wales and employing just over 5,500 people.

Media Wales reported in 2009 that former first minister Rhodri Morgan had called for Ireland to keep the consulate open when its closure was announced.

The department said the Welsh Government had been told at the time that the decision was taken for "financial reasons only, and that Ireland would look to reopen the consulate when the situation improved."

"The Welsh Government has welcomed the announcement that the consulate will be re-opened and there has already been engagement between our administrations on building further cooperation once the consulate is in place," the spokesman added.

The Director-General of the British-Irish Chamber of Commerce, John McGrane, said it was an "extremely welcome announcement".

"It's affirmation of the very strong bonds that exists between Wales and Ireland. Wales is an extremely important linkage for Irish trade and Ireland is an important customer for Wales," he said.

Welsh minister for international relations, Eluned Morgan, tweeted that she looked forward "to working collaboratively with our closest neighbour in Cardiff as we continue to strengthen political and economic ties between our two great nations".

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