I accompanied President Higgins and his wife Sabina on a State Visit to Germany last week, from 2 to 5 July.
The State Visit was a truly memorable event which highlighted the historic and contemporary links between our two countries. The success of the visit will, I believe, form a strong basis for further deepening and growing our already excellent bilateral relations in the years ahead.
The President’s programme included engagements in Berlin, Leipzig, Würzburg and Frankfurt. I accompanied President Higgins to number of meetings where there were discussions on Brexit, including with the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier; the Chancellor, Dr. Angela Merkel; and the Minister of State for Europe at the Federal Foreign Office, Michael Roth.
In addition, I had a bilateral meeting with the Minister of European and Federal Affairs of the State of Hessen, Ms. Lucia Puttrich, where I briefed the Minister on Brexit issues. During the State Visit events, I also met with a number of Bundestag parliamentarians and took the opportunity to informally discuss Brexit with them as well.
I appreciate Germany’s unwavering support in the Article 50 negotiations, including clear support for an operational and legally sound backstop to avoid a hard border. This solidarity was reaffirmed last week during the State Visit when President Steinmeier stated that Ireland's core interests are and will remain the EU's core interests.