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