Friday 20 January 2017

Ireland's strategy on Trump correct

Published 20/11/2016 | 02:30

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

The Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan has adopted the correct strategy in stating Ireland's intention to build a "strong relationship" with the president-elect in the US. That is not to say that the Government should suspend all critical faculties, depending on what policies are pursued when the new administration is in place. Clearly, that is not the intention anyway. However, the Government continues to have a number of important issues to press with the incoming president and it is as well, at this stage, to get that relationship off on a reasonable footing while also remaining vigilant to oppose any of the more extreme policies as enunciated during the election campaign, insofar as they might contradict Ireland's respected foreign policy.

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As Mr Flanagan writes in this newspaper this weekend, US companies employ 140,000 people in Ireland; have invested over $277bn in Ireland since 1990; and their collective annual output now exceeds $8bn. These companies contribute €3bn to the Irish Exchequer in taxes and an additional €13bn to the Irish economy in terms of payrolls, goods and services employed in their operations. This is a two-way relationship, with benefits for both countries. Irish companies directly employ an estimated 120,000 people within 227 companies in all 50 States across the US. These companies provide a range of opportunities for Irish-based staff to work and learn in the US, bringing valuable skills and experiences back to Ireland.

This is just on the economic front. In education, the US is the largest single country of origin for international students studying in Irish higher education institutions, comprising 19pc of full-time international students studying in Ireland. Again, this is a two-way relationship: 150,000 Irish students and young professionals have undertaken summer work and travel programmes, or year-long work abroad programmes, since these J1 programmes were established.

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