Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Ceisteanna (101)

Gerard Murphy

Ceist:

139 Mr. G. Murphy asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of planned new embassies to be opened over the remainder of 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10396/07]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Foreign)

Ireland has a network of 74 resident diplomatic and consular Missions abroad, as well as the British-Irish Intergovernmental Secretariat in Belfast and the North-South Ministerial Council Joint Secretariat in Armagh. While the opening of new Embassies abroad is considered by the Government on an ongoing basis, any expansion of our diplomatic network can only be undertaken having regard to clear priorities.

The White Paper on Irish Aid, published in September 2006, designated Malawi as Ireland's ninth programme country. Irish Aid is currently developing a country strategy for Malawi, with a view to beginning the implementation of a full programme of bilateral assistance to that country. In light of these developments, the Government recently approved my proposal to seek the agreement of the Government of Malawi to the opening of an Irish Embassy in Lilongwe and to the appointment of our first resident Ambassador there.

The successful trade mission, led by the Taoiseach in January, to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates underlined the potential value to Ireland of having a second resident Embassy in the Gulf region. Accordingly, and in order to take advantage of this potential, the Government agreed yesterday to my recommendation that an Embassy be established later in the year in the United Arab Emirates. Apart from Malawi and the United Arab Emirates, it is not anticipated that any other new Embassies will be opened over the remainder of 2007.

Question No. 140 answered with QuestionNo. 96.