First Minister, Mark Drakeford MS
I was pleased to travel to Ireland with cabinet colleagues, Minister for Rural Affairs, North Wales, and Trefnydd and Minister for Economy on 13-14 October for the second annual Ireland Wales Ministerial Forum. The commitment, for which, was agreed in the Ireland-Wales Shared Statement and Joint Action Plan 2021-25.
Building on the successful inaugural Forum I hosted in Cardiff last year, this year’s Ministerial Forum was held in Cork on 14th October, following several stakeholder engagements and Ministerial meetings in Dublin on 13th October. The Forum provided the platform to engage on political and economic matters and with broader stakeholders to develop relationships, exchange policy perspectives, share learning and build co-operation in areas for which the Welsh Government has devolved responsibility.
During my time in Dublin, I had the opportunity to address and meet members of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce as well as cultural partners at the National Museum of Ireland. It was fantastic to hear first-hand from businesses about the strong economic ties between our two nations and see how the agreement between our National Museums has grown over the past year.
I was joined by the Minister for Rural Affairs, North Wales, and Trefnydd in Dublin where she met Irish Minister for Social Justice and Rural Communities and visited Dublin Port. We have committed to continue to exchange learning on shared challenges around Border Controls.
In Cork, Minister Coveney and I co-hosted the Ministerial Forum in Cork City Hall which focussed on strengthening our bi-lateral relations; trade co-operation and economic development; and renewable energy developments and opportunities.
The Government of Ireland was represented by Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence, Simon Coveney T.D., Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath T.D., Minister for Trade Promotion, Dara Calleary T.D. and Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys T.D.
During the Forum, I visited MaREI, the SFI Research Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine research and innovation with Minister for Rural Affairs, North Wales, and Trefnydd and alongside Minister Coveney. The visit provided the opportunity to hear from a range of stakeholders in the renewable energy sector. Both Government’s committed to collaborate further to ensure we unlock the potential of renewable energy to power our economies, through grid connectivity, supply chain, infrastructure and skills development. The Minister for Economy had the opportunity to visit Cork Urban Enterprises with Minister Calleary. I look forward to further exchanges on regional development and supporting trade cooperation to strengthen economic ties between Wales and Ireland.
I was pleased to visit University College Cork, meeting President, Prof John O’Halloran and taking part in the Jean Monnet lecture series. Wales has particularly strong links with Cork especially through the Ireland Wales Programme, we are exploring with the Irish Government how to ensure our partners can continue to build on their successes.
This visit highlighted the strong relationship between Ireland and Wales and the tangible progress in delivering our Shared Statement I launched in March 2021. It was agreed the next meeting of the Ireland-Wales Forum would take place in Wales in late 2023.