Ireland is to open a consulate general in Austin, Texas, as part of a wider expansion of its diplomatic network as it seeks to attract foreign investment around the world.
Austin, the capital of Texas, is home to the University of Texas as well as a thriving scene for startups and technology companies, sectors which Ireland sees as complementary to its own high-tech economy.
Opened in 2010 as part of another diplomatic offensive, the Irish consulate in Atlanta was the country’s first new consulate general in the U.S. in more than 70 years. It serves Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Arkansas. An honorary consulate was established in Orlando, Fla., in January 2013.
This year’s expansion of Ireland’s global network will see consulates established in Hong Kong and Sao Paulo, Brazil. Embassies will either open or reopen in Bangkok; Jakarta, Indonesia; Nairobi, Kenya and Zagreb, the capital of the European Union’s newest member, Croatia.
The diplomatic offices will be small, ranging from one to three staffers. They will focus on reinforcing Ireland’s recovering image abroad and spurring economic activity, according to Eamon Gilmore, Ireland’s deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs and trade.
“Over the past five years our diplomats have been tasked with the frontline role in restoring Ireland’s once-tattered reputation abroad, and in championing our economic cause. And they have been hugely successful in doing that – both in European capitals, influencing key decisions at European Council level, and in major cities, organizations and political capitals around the world,” Mr. Gilmore said in a statement. “This expansion of the Embassy network will help to bolster that effort, and, crucially, to drive Ireland’s economic recovery, which has been export-led.”
Ireland accepted a bailout from the EU after its banks were threatened with default when a property bubble burst amid the global recession of 2009. In December Ireland became the first EU state to pay back all its debts, coupling painful austerity measures with plans designed to stimulate growth. Moody’s upgraded Ireland’s bond rating back to investment grade Jan. 20.
The diplomatic expansion comes at a time of sustained cuts to public services and will be funded with €4.7 million (about $6.3 million) per year out of the ministry’s existing budget.
Paul Gleeson, appointed in 2010 as the first Irish consul general in Atlanta, is slated to leave in August.
Mr. Gilmore visited Atlanta in March 2013. Read more: Ireland’s EU Presidency Focused on Trade and Investment
Visit http://consulateofirelandatlanta.com for more information.
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