Deepening relationship with Germany
Sir, – With reference to Derek Scally’s opinion piece of June 15th (“Finding that valuable time to re-engage with Germany”), last Wednesday in Berlin the Tánaiste launched the new review of Ireland-Germany relations. Its overarching message is that we need to widen and deepen our relationship.
This core objective is driving the current unprecedented level of engagement with Germany.
Key review recommendations include opening a new consulate in Frankfurt, establishing an Irish-German Economic Council and creating a cultural centre within the embassy. Implementation of these and other review recommendations is being actively advanced.
But we didn’t wait for the finalised review to step up engagement. While the weather was not kind to us in Munich last week – horrific thunder storms leading to severe flight delays and a missed speech – the Tánaiste’s Berlin programme involved an almost entire day in the Bundestag with parliamentarians from all parties, taking the time to listen and understand their perspectives.
The Tánaiste also met ministers from Bavaria and Hesse and other contacts interested in Ireland, particularly in the context of Brexit.
This intensive engagement built on the meeting of Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Taoiseach only a few weeks ago, and the six days Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton spent in Germany in March meeting with the state governments in Bavaria, Hamburg and Berlin. Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross, Minister of State for Financial Services and Insurance Michael D’Arcy and Minister for State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture Andrew Doyle have also all visited Germany this year, while Minister of State for European Affairs Helen McEntee will be in Berlin and Dusseldorf in July to meet her ministerial colleague responsible for European affairs and engage with the government of North Rhine Westphalia.
Ireland benefits from an incredibly talented, diverse and generous Irish community in Germany. On his visit last Wednesday, the Tánaiste was able to thank many of them in person for their welcome contribution to Irish-German relations.
Our community are an invaluable part of our review strategy aimed at a wider and deeper relationship with Germany.
All in all, Ireland in Germany involves a rich and ambitious agenda which we are actively and energetically advancing. – Yours, etc,
Ambassador of Ireland
Sir, – I agree with Derek Scally that Ireland must re-engage with Germany
I also agree with him that building those relations will require an investment in time and deep listening with the involvement of Irish people living in Germany.
Last month the Edward M Kennedy Institute, Maynooth University, collaborated with the German Centre for International Peace Operations ( ZIF) in the joint delivery of a programme on conflict analysis for the European Security and Defence College.
ZIF recruits and trains civilians for the German federal foreign office to send on EU and OSCE peace missions.
During our time with the Germans, preparing, delivering and evaluating the conflict programme, we were struck how much they knew about Ireland’s approach to mediation, negotiation and peacebuilding and how much we were learning from them.
We intend to deepen this collaboration, with encouragement from the German ambassador to Ireland.
It is an approach I would recommend to others.– Yours, etc,
Edward M Kennedy
Sir, – Derek Scally’s finger-wagging at the sloppy arrangements made by the Irish authorities for Simon Coveney’s recent visit to Germany deserves note.
However, given a choice between the fecklessness of “Ah, sure it’ll do ” or the harsh obsessiveness of “Alles in Ordnung”, I’d take the former any day! – Yours, etc,