On 13 November, I travelled to Edinburgh for a series of high-level meetings, including with the Secretary of State for Scotland, the First Minister and the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, whom I have met several times in Dublin. I engaged with the Irish community there and economic partners, as one would expect. I also met the Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations and was honoured to address parliamentarians at an event in the Scottish Parliament hosted by its Presiding Officer, Mr. Ken Macintosh.
The purpose of these engagements was to build on the strong cultural, political, economic and community ties that exist between our two countries. The visit took place in the context of a strategic review of Irish-Scottish relations, which I announced jointly with the Cabinet Secretary, Ms Hyslop, at the beginning of November. This review will examine the relationship between our two countries to identify current collaboration on matters devolved to Scotland and how we might build on this to enhance our overall relationship. This is a unique exercise in that it is the first time we are undertaking a review of this kind of joint co-operation with another jurisdiction. From my meetings in Edinburgh, I came away with a strong sense of the interest in, and appreciation for, our bilateral relationship. Through our consulate in Edinburgh, established 21 years ago, and the Scottish Government Hub in Dublin, we have worked intensively to deepen that understanding and collaboration. I am confident that this review will result in a joint report with recommendations and will contribute significantly to strengthening that relationship for the future.
Brexit, and the EU-UK future relationship discussions to follow, will undoubtedly present some challenges for our bilateral relationships with the UK as we work with EU partners to secure the best possible outcome for Ireland and the EU. Strong and close relationships with the UK Government and individually with the devolved Administrations will be of ever-greater importance during this time and in the years ahead.