Brexit to dominate conference of diplomats in Dublin

Irish ambassadors from across the world will discuss UK’s vote to leave the EU at gathering

Peter Sutherland, UN special representative on migration, is due to address the conference of Irish diplomats in Dublin. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Peter Sutherland, UN special representative on migration, is due to address the conference of Irish diplomats in Dublin. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

 

Ireland’s response to the UK’s decision to leave the EU will top the agenda when Irish ambassadors and senior diplomats from across the world gather in Dublin today.

Brexit will dominate the four-day heads of mission conference, hosted by the Department of Foreign Affairs, which is due to be addressed by Dutch foreign minister Bert Koenders, former European Council president Herman van Rompuy and the former attorney general Peter Sutherland, who is UN special representative on migration.

Within the department, the conference is seen as an opportunity to mobilise the mission network and co-ordinate the response to Brexit, which Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan said yesterday would involve “the most important set of multilateral and bilateral negotiations in a generation”.

A similar conference was held after the Fine Gael-Labour coalition came to power in 2011, when the mission network was put into service in helping to restore Ireland’s international reputation after the EU-IMF bailout.

So far the Government’s position on Brexit has been to stress that Ireland’s future remains firmly in the EU while lobbying for a favourable deal for the UK, an important trading partner.

Mr Flanagan reiterated this on the eve of the conference. “I will be charging our diplomats with the task of reinforcing the message globally that Ireland is committed to the European Union, to strengthening and deepening our relationships with Great Britain, and to maintaining Ireland as a superb place to do business,” he said.

Emerging markets

Brexit has also put into sharp relief the need to accelerate moves to spread Ireland’s trade more widely, in particular in emerging markets.

To that end, the conference will focus on the department’s new economic diplomacy strategy with particular emphasis on Asia-Pacific and the Americas.

Other items on the agenda for the seminar include Ireland’s campaign for a seat on the UN Security Council in 2020, Ireland’s bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup, humanitarian aid, reform of the Passport Service and how the department handles consular emergencies.