New €3m embassy in Nigeria to enhance security for Irish diplomats

Building will be in a compound in Abuja with embassies from other EU countries

The department has been renting a building for the Irish embassy, where the current ambassador is Seán Hoy, in the Maitama district of Abuja in Nigeria, since 1999.

The department has been renting a building for the Irish embassy, where the current ambassador is Seán Hoy, in the Maitama district of Abuja in Nigeria, since 1999.

 

Ireland is to increase security for diplomats in the Nigerian capital Abuja with the construction of its first new embassy building overseas for more than a decade.

The new building – expected to cost €3 million – will be in a compound with embassies from other EU countries “and an enhanced level of security”, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

The department has been renting a building for the Irish embassy, where the current ambassador is Seán Hoy, in the Maitama district of Abuja since 1999. The annual rent is €135,000.

Amid heightened security concerns in the country, the department confirmed it has secured a plot in an EU compound “at no cost” where it expects to begin construction next year.

It is expected the project will take 18-24 months.

“This is an opportunity for the department to co-locate with the EU, Dutch and Italians in a joint compound which will help with a long-term solution to address issues of a poor quality building, increased capacity needs for a growing work load and issues on increased needs for security,” a department spokesman said.

“It also protects the department against increases in rents in the future in Abuja.”

The risk of domestic terrorism, including suicide bomb attacks, is high in Nigeria, according to the department’s advice to citizens.

Boko Haram is among a number of groups behind attacks at markets, parks, schools and religious institutions.

Visa office

The Department of Foreign Affairs warns that attacks could be indiscriminate and could take place on a variety of targets including government, security and educational institutions and international organisations.

Elections in the country this year saw an expected surge in violence.

The new Abuja embassy in the EU compound will provide office accommodation for the embassy’s 27 staff, including staff from the Department of Justice and Equality.

The last embassy constructed by the State was in Ethiopia in 2007. Just 12 of Ireland’s 62 overseas missions are State-owned, with the others all being rented.

The Abuja embassy manages Ireland’s relations with and monitors developments in Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire.

The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service from the Department of Justice and Equality operates a full-time visa office within the embassy which received approximately 6,500 applications last year.

The passport section responds to an average of 360 passport queries annually to Irish citizens in Nigeria.

Asked if there were any specific security concerns around the existing Irish embassy in Abuja, a department spokesman said it is policy not to comment on, or provide details, concerning security matters.

“The department’s security arrangements are kept under regular review, including security arrangements for premises,” he added.