Business World

Thursday 17 August 2017

Foreign offices need to charm Europe

Nick Webb Business Editor

IRELAND has an embassy in Ethiopia, in Cyprus, in Iran and in Malawi. The Department of Foreign Affairs, which runs these embassies, has a budget of €160m per year. Whatever for?

Instead of loading up on Ferrero Rocher or promoting potato cuisine or bodhran making, these embassies should be put on a war footing. All the ambassadors should be reschooled on how to pitch Ireland.

Ireland has failed horribly in getting its message across to the people who count. Forget about a mid-level eurocrat in Brussels or an ECB functionary. Gunter, the Hoffenheim truckdriver or Jean-Luc, the Le Havre plumber should top the list. There are two big elections coming up in France and Germany.

Full-page ads in Bild and Le Monde or on ZDF or M6 need to explain just two things. Firstly, that Ireland's problems are partially caused by German and French banks shovelling money at ours. Secondly, that we're good for our actual state borrowings. The banking stuff needs to be clearly separated out in a debt audit and presented as the big pile of dung that it represents.

The biggest marketing and lobbying campaign in decades should be unleashed. The Germans have a rather catchy word for this -- blitzkreig.

While nobody is suggesting that we send Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore out to bat, it's time for our highly paid diplomats and embassies to get out there and start persuading the right people.

Sunday Indo Business

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