Libya plans to open embassy in Ireland
Plans are under way to open a Libyan embassy in Ireland before the end of the year to increase bilateral co-operation between the two countries after the fall of Muammar Gadafy.
The embassy would cater for Ireland’s large Libyan population, the second biggest Libyan diaspora in Europe after Britain’s. Since the 1960s, Libyans have come to Ireland for professional or educational reasons, and many have stayed, often marrying Irish citizens.
“There is a real need for an embassy here to offer consular assistance and to further develop relations between Libya and Ireland,” said Faheem Bukhatwa, a lecturer at Griffith College, Dublin, and spokesman for the Libyan community in Ireland.
Minister for Trade and Development Joe Costello met Libya’s deputy prime minister Al-Sadeq Abdulkareem on the sidelines of the Syria donor conference in Kuwait last month. They discussed the possibility of an official visit. Plans are being drawn up for a delegation of Libyan officials and business people to visit Ireland soon.
Several Libyans with connections to Ireland played prominent roles in the 2011 uprising. Libya’s first post-Gadafy government included three ministers who had lived in Ireland. The country’s current deputy interior minister Omar Khadrawi obtained a master’s degree from DCU.
Libyans with a connection to Ireland, particularly within the medical and educational sectors, have been pushing for closer co-operation.
“The potential is great for the bilateral relationship, particularly given there are such good contacts between the two countries, with qualified people who know Ireland and know what Libya needs,” Libya’s then foreign minister Ashour Ben Khayal told The Irish Times last year.
Almost 3,000 cattle were exported from Ireland to Libya this week in the first live shipment since it banned imports from the EU in 1996 due to the BSE outbreak. Libya had been a lucrative market prior to that.
Oil-rich Libya’s potential was highlighted yesterday by the Arab-Irish Chamber of Commerce.
It said Libya offered potential across a range of sectors including oil and gas, agriculture, telecommunications, education, medical equipment, services and tourism.