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The candidates at the TG4 debate yesterday Tony Kinlan
Race for the Áras

#Áras11: The Wednesday question for Presidential candidates

Each day this week, will be hosting Tell Us Why’s question campaign for clarity on the seven candidates’ priorities. Today: How they would approach a State visit to China.

THE VOLUNTEER INFORMATION has asked each of the Presidential candidates a question for each day of this week to discern their priorities for the office. is hosting the question – and answers – each day.

Question 3: “If you were on a State visit to China, and invited to make a keynote address, what would be your primary focus?”

David Norris:

I would use the occasion to advance Ireland’s interests and respectfully remind our hosts of any national concerns we might have. Our increasing ties with China are incredibly important as its growing economic power, in a increasingly global economy, will continue to have a great influence on our future. But with this comes a responsibility to help highlight our responsibilities as citizens of the world to champion human rights and protect the marginalised.

Gay Mitchell:

Speeches on State visits abroad are written either by the Department of Foreign Affairs, or by the President based on instructions from Foreign Affairs. The President’s role in foreign affairs is strictly limited under the Republic of Ireland Act. They act on the authority of the Government.

I would of course wish to highlight a range of issues, from developing economic links, to issues to do with human rights, to international relations. But ultimately the speech could only touch on things approved by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Martin McGuinness:

The primary focus would be to attract jobs to the island of Ireland from what is one of biggest economies in the world. I would also have a duty and responsibility to state that we in Ireland treasure civil and religious liberty and we believe the rights of all citizens must be protected.

Mary Davis:

Having had the pleasure of visiting on a number of occasions through my work as head of Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia, I recognise that China is one of the world’s fastest growing economies. Ireland needs to develop a much more significant trading relationship with not only China, but other burgeoning economies in central Asia and further east.

In my address, I would focus on our country’s industrious, educated and hard-working people. I would stress the fact that we have become an international hub for many multinationals with many of the top technology firms locating their European centres there. I would highlight our attractiveness as a place to do business with a low corporation tax rate and an innovative, educated and committed workforce.

Michael D. Higgins:

If I was on a State visit, I would raise human rights in China and Tibet in my private discussions with the Chinese Head of State, relying on the most up-to-date and objective briefing provided to me from our Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. This would be the most appropriate and, I believe, effective, means of communication on these matters.

In terms of a keynote address to the Chinese people, I would seek to concentrate on the connections which can be build between two of the great and ancient civilisations located at the two extreme ends of the world. I would emphasise to them that Ireland’s unique history and the fact that we have never colonised another state. I would then invite the Chinese people to visit us and marvel at the wonderful sites of our built and natural heritage throughout the State which tells our story, and to take advantage of the new visa arrangements which are now in place, precisely to facilitate that – noting the capacity of Shannon Airport to take the new superjets which are going in to service.

I would also take note of the discussions at the Global Irish Economic Forum only last weekend, which suggested that we here concentrate on building brand recognition to increase exports to China and other emerging markets, I would also be seeking new synergies with China – in addition to the tourism which I have already mentioned – to assist in employment creation here in Ireland.

Seán Gallagher:

My primary focus would be on Ireland’s strengths and what we do well. We have a great story to tell. Our economy needs to be built on sectors we are good at, tourism, food and agriculture, craft and in our new areas of expertise in technology, digital media and energy. Our country and its people have many talents and unique strengths. We can do whatever we choose, once we believe in it and are prepared to work at it.

I would focus on the talent we have and how Irish companies could contribute to the Chinese market. I would highlight how skilled and talented the Irish workforce how our country is an excellent place in which to invest. And I would talk about Ireland and its people and the warm welcome visitors receive throughout the country.

Dana Rosemary Scallon: Failed to return an answer to the question.

Question No. 2: The answers>

Question No.1 : The answers>

Read’s coverage of the Race for the Áras>

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