16 May 2018, 11.37

The Foreign Affairs Committee has begun a three-day fact-finding visit to London focused on Brexit, overseas aid priorities and engaging with Irish communities in the British capital.

Chairman Brendan Smith TD is being joined by Sean Barrett TD and Noel Grealish TD for a wide-ranging itinerary.

On Wednesday the TDs’ first port of call is the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Irish in Britain, chaired by County Armagh-born British Labour MP Conor McGinn. The afternoon features a series of meetings with the House of Commons’ Foreign Affairs, International Development and Exiting the European Union committees.

"Britain’s impending move to leave the European Union provides the critical context for much of our discussion on the first day of the Committee’s trip,” Deputy Smith said. “We must redouble our efforts to maintain close working links with our British parliamentary counterparts and ensure a high level of awareness and understanding of the significant challenges that Brexit poses for Ireland.

"I also hope to discuss the many challenges facing the international community, not least the deeply troubling situation on the Gaza/Israeli border and the disproportionate use of force on unarmed protesters, a matter of grave concern for the Committee."

On Thursday and Friday, the Committee will meet a wide range of Irish community and cultural centres. Engagement with the diaspora and addressing their concerns is a key priority for the Committee.

"The Committee is particularly aware of the important support network that Irish community and cultural centres provide in the UK, not least for the most vulnerable members of the Irish community there,” Deputy Smith said. "We look forward to meeting representatives of those vital organisations and learning more about the services they provide to the huge Irish community in London. The Committee is particularly interested in hearing any Brexit-related concerns these groups may have."

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