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Mumbai, Cardiff and LA: 10 new embassies to open this year to tap into new markets

The Tánaiste also defended the costly practice of leasing properties abroad, rather than buying property.

Image: Shutterstock/logoboom

OPENING TEN NEW Irish embassies in 2019, with a further three openings scheduled in 2020, is linked to Ireland’s Brexit strategy, according to Tánaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney. 

In announcing the government’s plans for this year, the Tánaiste also defended the costly practice of leasing, rather than buying property abroad.  

By the end of 2019 Ireland will have opened the following new missions:

  • Vancouver (completed)
  • Wellington (completed)
  • Monrovia (completed)
  • Mumbai (Q1, 2019)
  • Bogotá (Q1, 2019)
  • Santiago de Chile (Q1, 2019)
  • Amman (Q1, 2019)
  • Cardiff (Q2, 2019)
  • Los Angeles (Q4, 2019)
  • Frankfurt (Q4, 2019)

The government is planning a further three openings in 2020:

  • Kyiv (Q4, 2020)
  • Manila (Q4, 2020), and
  • Rabat (Q4, 2020)

Coveney said “there is an element of a Brexit strategy” in opening these new embassies in terms of some sectors having an over-reliance on trade with the UK, stating that there are new markets Irish businesses can tap into. 

He added that even if Brexit was not happening, Ireland would be pressing ahead with increasing its diplomatic footstep. 

Describing it as “pretty dramatic in terms of the pace of expansion”, Coveney said there will be a huge return for the opening of the new embassies. 

Cost of renting over buying property abroad

The Tánaiste also defended the spend on embassies abroad. 

The Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee recently said it is concerned there is a move towards long-term rental, rather than the State buying properties and questioned whether renting premises for Irish embassies abroad is value for money. 

The top five Irish embassy rental costs last year were Brussels, New York, Beijing and London. 

The cost of renting the premises in Brussels last year cost €1.065 million, while Ireland’s permanent representation to the UN in New York cost €885,014. The Consulate General in New York cost €814,406 to rent. 

Beijing embassy rent cost €501,825 and the London embassy and official accommodation cost €406,490. 

Coveney said the State buys and leases properties abroad.

“We do both,” he said, adding that properties divisions have a job to do in order “to get the best value for money” in the right locations. 

“There is no point in buying property and then finding ourselves stuck in properties that are devalued and in the wrong place in five years time,” he said, adding that the government buys where it can be assured there is value for money, and “when we can’t do that, we lease, it is case by case”. 

There will be no cap on the spending for new embassies, said Coveney, who added that all costs will be transparent and every penny will be accounted for. 

Among the embassies opening over the next two years, Coveney said the ‘Ireland House’ in Tokyo is one of the government’s biggest undertakings, describing it as a “huge piece of infrastructure”. 

He said he was glad an embassy was opened in New Zealand, saying it should have been opened many years ago. 

A site visit to Los Angeles is to take place soon, according to Coveney who said the Irish government won’t “rush into buying next door to Robbie Keane”. 

He said the embassy will help promote Irish film, stating that two focuses for that embassy is on tech and also the creative industries.

“Ireland has built a reputation for itself which allows us to expand into new markets in a very exciting way. This is about capitalising on the opportunities that are emerging,” he said.  

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