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Tuesday 20 March 2018

Tanaiste urges diplomats to talk up the economy

Brian Hutton

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore has ordered Irish diplomats across the globe to get the message out that Ireland has drawn a line under its banking crisis.

In a rally-the-troops speech to overseas ambassadors, the Foreign Affairs minister outlined key points to be driven home to international press, business and political figures.

These include that Ireland was meeting its EU/IMF rescue package targets, was returning to economic growth, had dropped prices and rents and was holding onto its low corporation tax rate.

Mr Gilmore also told the foreign service to underline Ireland's reputation for innovation, scientific research and the arts.

He described their mission as "a major diplomatic initiative to restore, in the words of Robert Emmet, Ireland's place among the nations of the earth".

"Because, for all our difficulties, Ireland does have a very positive story to tell, and it is up to all of us to communicate it effectively," he said.

Some 76 ambassadors and heads of mission from around the world were summoned to the Department of Foreign Affairs headquarters at Iveagh House on Dublin's St Stephen's Green for the two-day conference on how to restore Ireland's image abroad.

The government is hoping to build on the momentum created by the widely-praised State visits of Queen Elizabeth and US President Barack Obama last month.

Mr Gilmore said the historic events showed how Ireland can look when it puts its best face to the world.

"I have no doubt that they will play a part in restoring our national confidence and self-belief," he said.

"The royal visit, in particular, was the culmination of a process which has often appeared intractable, but on which this department and our diplomatic service persevered at all times, no matter how bleak the prospects occasionally looked.

"We need that same sense of determination and inventiveness today to deal with the economic difficulties we now face."

Mr Gilmore said the country's small but effective foreign service had played a key role in asserting and protecting Irish sovereignty since the foundation of the State, and now it was being called on to rescue its economic sovereignty.

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