THE MAYORS of Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Region have said they are looking forward to strengthening cooperation with Ireland during a major mission to Dublin.
At a meeting yesterday Mayor Andy Burnham, Mayor Steve Rotheram and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney TD agreed to further develop the partnership between Ireland and the two cities.
The meeting was part of a joint mission to Ireland led by the two mayors which also involved business delegations and civic leaders, which was backed by the UK Department of International Trade.
In welcoming the mayors, Minister Simon Coveney spoke of his determination to continue to build up Ireland’s engagement with the North of England:
"The development of our partnership with the North of England is a key part of Ireland’s strategy for strengthening relations with Great Britain post-Brexit. We have unique heritage and community ties right across the North of England and there is great potential for Irish firms to develop partnerships with the dynamic Northern Powerhouse region.
"Mayor Andy Burham and Mayor Steve Rotherham worked with me on the opening of our Consulate General for the North of England last year and this week’s mission is another important step forward. Our respective commitments to the relationship are clear."
Day 2 of #NWMayorsinIreland mission - business & trade a big focus
📈 Opening @tradegovukIRE Summit & meeting @EI_TheUK
⚽️ Hosting @marketing_mcr tourism round table
🇮🇪 Meeting FM @simoncoveney & Min @DarraghOBrienTD
🤝 @BITAIntl reception
📖 Hello to a famous Dubliner pic.twitter.com/oDjB3JRIoK
— Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham (@MayorofGM) March 29, 2022
He said his department and the new Consulate will continue to explore opportunities for strategic engagement in the tourism, academic, sustainability, cultural and sporting sectors, to in particular "promote two-way commercial opportunities across the Irish Sea."
"High-level visits such as these are important and will continue to be supported," he finished.
Mayor of the Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram said they had been given "a typically warm Irish welcome."
"It is clear from our conversations so far that our region’s special relationship with our nearest neighbour is as strong as ever," he continued.
"Andy and I arrived here with the ambition to lay the foundations to ensure that the latest chapter in our long shared history is a prosperous one. All the conversations we have had so far this week indicate that this feeling is very much mutual."
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said there "are so many opportunities for us to work together on vital issues like recovering from the pandemic and cutting emissions to meet our net zero goals."
"Together our businesses can grow, invest, and create good jobs on both sides of the Irish Sea.
"Minister Coveney shares our determination to deepen collaboration and cooperation between our places and this agreement will help us to take that next step forward."
🇮🇪 This was followed by a meeting with @LeoVaradkar before an evening reception at @homeofguinness celebrating the cultural ties between the North West and Ireland.
🎤 Featuring a performance by our own @MichaelAldag12! pic.twitter.com/k8alg4qMz2
— Mayor Steve Rotheram (@LCRMayor) March 29, 2022
The visit lasted two days and also saw the two mayors meet with President Michael D Higgins, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, and partake in Business and Innovation Summit hosted by DIT.
It also follows the official opening by Minister Coveney of Ireland’s new Consulate General for the region in October 2021, recent visits to the region by Ministers Robert Troy and Sean Fleming and the establishment of an Enterprise Ireland Office in Manchester in 2019.
It is said that approximately 35% of population of the City of Manchester has some Irish ancestry, while Liverpool claims to have the strongest Irish heritage of any British city. The Department of Foreign Affairs provides over £1 million annually to 26 organisations serving the Irish community in the North of England though its Emigrant Support Programme.