Ir­ish par­lia­ment builds stronger ties with the Emi­rates amid the uncertain back­drop of a loom­ing Brexit

The National - News - - NEWS EMIRATES - JOHN DEN­NEHY

Ire­land and the UAE signed a par­lia­men­tary co-op­er­a­tion agree­ment to boost fu­ture links, from ed­u­ca­tion to trade.

The speaker of the Ir­ish par­lia­ment, Sean O Fearghail, signed the agree­ment on Mon­day dur­ing a visit to the UAE, and spoke about the lack of ac­cu­rate re­port­ing on the war in Ye­men from me­dia out­lets in Europe.

One of the aims of the visit was to learn more about is­sues that are im­por­tant to Emi­ratis. Chief among these was the sit­u­a­tion in Ye­men, Mr O Fearghail told The Na­tional.

The con­flict is in its fourth year and he said the UAE’s com­mit­ment to hu­man­i­tar­ian aid was not be­ing talked about by the me­dia in Europe.

Mr O Fearghail said the del­e­ga­tion “learnt a lot that we could not learn from the me­dia at home by speak­ing to the Fed­eral Na­tional Coun­cil”.

“We want to en­gage with all par­ties to en­cour­age a res­o­lu­tion,” he said. “We also learnt about the level of in­vest­ment the Emi­ratis are mak­ing in Ye­men in sup­port of the peo­ple.”

The speaker, or ceann comhairle, will also chair trade meet­ings. His visit builds on a re­cent ex­pan­sion of Ire­land’s diplo­matic pres­ence here.

A new am­bas­sador to the UAE, Ai­dan Cronin, has just started his term while a deputy head of mis­sion has also been added to the team for the first time.

The trip must also be viewed against the uncertain back­drop of Brexit and Mr O Fearghail said the di­vi­sive is­sue had cropped up fre­quently.

“We were de­ter­mined to boost engagement long be­fore Brexit but ev­ery­thing be­comes more im­por­tant when that is fac­tored in,” he said. “There is a very high-level aware­ness of the prob­lem.”

On the deal signed with the coun­cil, Mr O Fearghail spoke of the in­tro­duc­tion in Jan­uary of visa-free travel to Ire­land for Emi­ratis as an ex­am­ple for fu­ture agree­ments. “It fa­cil­i­tates tourism and all forms of busi­ness,” he said.

Other ar­eas of co-op­er­a­tion could now ex­tend to ed­u­ca­tion. Of the more than 10,000 Ir­ish res­i­dents liv­ing and work­ing in the coun­try, many are young teach­ers.

“Could we of­fer the UAE an op­por­tu­nity to train some of its teach­ers?” Mr O Fearghail said. “It is for mem­bers of FNC and Dail [Ire­land’s lower house of par­lia­ment] to de­cide that.”

Links be­tween the UAE and Ire­land stretch back decades, with Ir­ish cit­i­zens such as Dubai Duty Free chief ex­ec­u­tive Colm McLough­lin play­ing a vi­tal role in the coun­try’s early de­vel­op­ment. To­day trade be­tween the two coun­tries is worth about €1.7 bil­lion (Dh7.1bn) a year.

Mr O Fearghail spoke of the in­tro­duc­tion of visafree travel to Ire­land for Emi­ratis as an ex­am­ple for fu­ture agree­ments

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