Minister Howlin addresses British Irish Chamber of Commerce - Growing Stronger Together Belfast, 13 February 2014

Issued 17 February 2014

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British Irish Relations have never been better, according to Brendan Howlin TD, Minister for Public Expenditure & Reform.  The Minister was speaking today at the Annual Conference of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce at the Titanic in Belfast. 

Speaking at the event, Minister Howlin noted, “Over the past few years in particular there have been significant developments in cooperation at Government level.   There is a mutual respect and trust which extends beyond Government into the wider community.

Engagement between the Irish and British Governments is increasingly about our bilateral opportunities and our shared interests in Europe and internationally, not least in the world of business.”

The British Irish Chamber of Commerce was established in 2011 and launched during the State Visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Ireland.  To date the Chamber has registered over 200 member companies that collectively employ 55,000 people.  The first annual conference of the Chamber took place last year in Dublin at the Aviva Stadium.  The theme of this year’s conference is Growing Stronger Together. The Conference was also addressed by First Minister Peter Robinson and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers.

The Minister noted that the UK is Ireland’s most important trading partner and will continue to be the single most important market for Irish exports. €1 billion worth of traded goods now crosses the Irish Sea each week.   

The Minister said there is a new and unprecedented opportunity to accelerate North South cooperation in a practical direction in support of economic growth. He recalled that last year there had been 25 meetings of the North South Ministerial Council which had included discussions on areas of co-operation as diverse as health, education, agriculture, the Irish language, business and trade development, tourism, the environment and transport.

He went on to say, “In the current economic circumstance it is important to concentrate our efforts on areas where co-operation makes sense and brings real, tangible and mutual benefits to people across the island so that we can all grow stronger together.”

The Minister said that he was glad that in last year’s EU Budget, funding had been secured for a new PEACE Programme saying “,The aim of the PEACE programme, is to reinforce progress towards a peaceful and stable society by reconciling communities and contributing to a shared society.”

The Minister said he strongly believes that membership of the European Union is vital to our ongoing recovery and to our future.  He said that both the European Union and the UK have been key partners in Ireland’s programme of recovery stating, “The UK has a place at the centre of the European Union.  The Union has benefitted from UK membership and I believe the UK will continue to benefit from EU membership.”

 

Pull Quotes

“Over the past few years in particular there have been significant developments in cooperation at Government level.   There is a mutual respect and trust which extends beyond Government into the wider community.”

“Engagement between the Irish and British Governments is increasingly about our bilateral opportunities and our shared interests in Europe and internationally, not least in the world of business.” 

“In the current economic circumstance it is important to concentrate our efforts on areas where co-operation makes sense and brings real, tangible and mutual benefits to people across the island so that we can all grow stronger together.”

“The aim of the PEACE programme, is to reinforce progress towards a peaceful and stable society by reconciling communities and contributing to a shared society.” 

“The UK has a place at the centre of the European Union.  The Union has benefitted from UK membership and I believe the UK will continue to benefit from EU membership.”

13 February 2014

 

ENDS