IRELAND AND Wales should build on mutual investment and employment opportunities, Irish President Michael D. Higgins said on his first official visit to the country this week.
Back on British soil for the first time since his historic state visit in April, President Higgins met with political leaders at Wales’ National Assembly.
During a meeting with Welsh First Minister, the Rt. Hon Carwyn Jones, issues such as planning and youth
unemployment were discussed.
“There are about 55 Irish businesses who are invested in Wales. I hope my visit will encourage many other people in Wales to come and visit Ireland,” Mr Higgins said. “There are some very
positive proposals coming from the research groups in terms of how Irish and Welsh relationships can be deepened and expanded.”
The President also cited the many cultural links that can be developed further.
“I think there are many, many opportunities,” he added. “The cultural area, the co-operation of film, drama, theatre, the exchange of writers, studies of the language in both countries.
“Economically there are many, many different exchanges going on. The fact that we share maritime space is obvious and there are exchanges taking place in technological innovation that are very important.”
The Irish Head of State landed in Cardiff on Monday for the first leg of his two-day visit – Ireland’s first official
trip to Wales since Mary McAleese’s visit in 2002.
Asked about the relationship between Ireland and Wales, Mr Higgins said: “We share a Celtic imagination; we’re not confined to rational categories always.”
Mr Higgins began his trip at Mansion House in the Welsh capital, attending a lunch hosted by the Leader of Cardiff Council, Councillor Phil Bale. Earlier
the President was greeted by the Irish Ambassador to Britain Dan Mulhall and Lord Lieutenant of South Glamorgan Dr Peter Beck.
“I’ve had very good discussions with the leader of Cardiff Council about
how the relationship between Irish and Welsh cities can be developed,” the
As well as meeting figures from the worlds of politics and business, the President was also marking the cultural and educational life of Wales.
Monday marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dylan Thomas and a series of events and performances were attended by the President in Swansea, where the Welsh firebrand poet spent many years.
Before returning to Dublin, the President visited Swansea University to see the work being done through the Ireland Wales Programme, which develops Irish-Welsh co-operation in the areas of employment, innovation, climate change and sustainable development.