Irish-US relationship remains strong, Richard Bruton says
Minister for Education defends links between the two countries at Trinity College event
Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton speaks at a symposium on international collaborations in Trinity College Dublin. Photograph: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Speaking at the symposium on international collaboration in education, research and innovation, Mr Bruton said that it was “worrying to see in the present environment [that] those strong links [between the countries] are under pressure both politically and in other ways”.
However, he said there was a “strong bond” between the countries through educational and business exchanges.
Mr Bruton said there were 9,000 US students currently registered at colleges in Ireland, and the Government was keen to double that number over the “coming years”.
He noted that 100,00 people in Ireland were employed by US-owned companies, while “Irish companies employ 100,000 people in the US”.
While not directly referring to the current controversy over Apple and its tax arrangements in Ireland, Mr Bruton said: “Our relationship with the US has been one of the most resilient and strong.”
However, he said that “those strong links between the US and Europe have been very much part of our story and our understanding of how things should develop. That is under pressure.
“Those who believe in the importance of free trade, of free international collaboration, of sharing insights in education and innovation [need to] stand up for the sort of world we want to create.”
He said this was important “at a time when there are clearly political forces in many European countries and indeed in the US who are seeking to take this matter on a journey in a very different direction”.
Role of education
Mr Bruton said the symposium’s theme echoed a three-year action plan for education being prepared by his department, which aims “to make Ireland the best education server in Europe”.
He said Trinity College Dublin had “achieved the accolade of being the most entrepreneurial college globally.
“When you go back to when we joined the European Union, we had the lowest participation level [in education] of any country in Europe and now we have the highest.
“Irish people and Irish governments have sensed the importance of education and its capacity to transform our society.”
The symposium involved Trinity College Dublin, Boston College and Georgia Institute of Technology.
The symposium was also addressed by Fr William P Leahy, president of Boston College, Dr GP “Bud” Peterson, president of the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Dr Patrick Prendergast, provost of Trinity College Dublin.
The symposium coincides with an American football match between Boston College Eagles and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, which is to be held in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin this weekend.
Some 48,000 college football fans are expected to visit Dublin for the event.