Irish Honorary Consulate announced for Phuket


The Minister for Foreign Affairs announced today that the Government is to press ahead with the appointment of an Irish Honorary Consul in Phuket, Thailand.

Mr Dermot Ahern spoke of his intention to make the appointment when he visited the region after the December 26 thtsunami devastated the area.

Pending its formal establishment, Mr Ahern has appointed an Irish resident there, Ms Fallon Wood, to represent the Department, and to act as a point of contact in regard to the search for Irish citizens missing in that area.

He said the Government has allocated €20 million in aid with €500,000 specifically targeted for Phuket. "The overall funding will focus on the immediate emergency needs of the most vulnerable sections of the populations affected, particularly in Sri Lanka and Indonesia," he said.

Mr Ahern travels to Brussels tomorrow for a meeting of EU foreign ministers to discuss the EU's response to the tsunami and the plans for longer-term follow-up in the region.

"The response to the disaster in Ireland and across Europe has been enormous. It is important that we now translate that response into a long term commitment to the region. The countries of the region face an enormous task of reconstruction, and we must do what we can to help," Mr Ahern said.

Other topics for discussion tommorow include Iraq, relations with Ukraine, the Middle East Peace Process and the situation in Sudan's Darfur region.