The Irish Embassy in the UK will move from its landmark building close to Buckingham Palace in central London after almost 75 years under new plans which look set to be approved by the Government on Tuesday.
The Embassy has been situated in 17 Grosvenor Place since Christmas Day 1949. The building was formerly occupied by the First Earl of Iveagh, Arthur Ernest Guinness, until it was leased to the Irish Government.
The Embassy will move to a much larger site which will also house three State agencies – Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland – in central London. The location of the new site has not yet been revealed.
The new building will be known as Ireland House and will be one of several such major one-stop shops for the State in key strategic cites. There are already 21 ‘Ireland House’ buildings throughout the world, where the embassies and State agencies are co-located. Work is already under way for a major Ireland House in Tokyo in Japan, with a further landmark Ireland House being planned for New York. The expansion plans form part of the Government’s Global Ireland strategy to promote the image of Ireland in the most impactful and effective manner.
Tánaiste Micheál Martin will seek Government approval for the new building which will see Ireland’s Embassy and agencies come together under one roof for the first time.
The lease for the new site will be signed following due diligence under the Public Spending Code, with regular updates on the process.
Global Ireland was launched in 2018 with the aim of doubling Ireland’s global footprint and influence by 2025, including through an expanded and strengthened diplomatic presence internationally.
London contains Ireland’s largest bilateral presence in any single city in the world.
Mr Martin, who is Minister for Foreign Affairs, is expected to tell Cabinet colleagues that the British-Irish relationship remains a key one for the State and that a strong relationship is crucial to safeguard economic and political stability between the two islands. That means an increased Irish presence in London.
It is understood the Department of Foreign Affairs began scoping options for Ireland House London in 2019 in line with the Public Spending Code. A feasible site has been identified in central London. The new building is expected to open in early 2026.
The Embassy building overlooks the garden of Buckingham Palace and is in one of the most exclusive areas of central London. It is a terraced town mansion with an elaborate portico and is owned by the Duke of Westminster, who leases it to the Government.
The Cabinet will also consider a memo from Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien which has identified 14 locations in Dublin suitable for housing development because they are close to existing, and future, high-capacity transport routes.
These locations will allow higher-density and compact housing development, because they will be less dependent on car use. These locations include: Adamstown, Ballymun, Barnhill/Kellystown, Cherrywood, Clonburris, North Fringe, Poolbeg West, Sandyford, Tallaght, Broombridge, City Edge, Dunsink, Jamestown and Charlestown, and Lissenhall.
Minister for Education Norma Foley will also bring details to Cabinet of a new wellbeing pilot scheme to provide counselling services in primary schools.
In total, €5 million has been allocated to develop this new pilot programme which will provide counselling in primary schools for the first time and to build the capacity of the school system.
This will be done in close collaboration with our National Educational Psychology Service (NEPS) which will support schools by establishing panels of qualified counsellors and by helping to identify the students who would most benefit from this intervention.
The second part will create a new type of role within the education system, that of a “wellbeing practitioner” who will work with schools on early intervention and wellbeing promotion. These new practitioners will be provided with comprehensive training by NEPs.