First Official Visit to Ireland by Scotland's First Minister
The Right. Hon. Donald Dewar MP will make a one day official visit to Dublin - the first by a Scottish First Minister to Ireland - on Friday 29 October. Following a call on the Taoiseach, Mr. Bertie Ahern T.D., he will have official talks at Iveagh House with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. David Andrews T.D. The First Minister will then pay a courtesy call on President McAleese at Áras an Uachtaráin before returning to Edinburgh.
11:00 am Call on Taoiseach at Government Buildings
12:00 noon Arrival at Department of Foreign Affairs, Iveagh House
Speaking on the eve of the visit, Minister Andrews said:
"The British-Irish Council will bring Ireland and Scotland into structured political dialogue for the first time. Scotland's contribution will be to bring fresh and helpful perspectives to bear on our growing and diversifying links with the UK and thereby help to underpin the Northern Ireland peace process."
Note for Editors:
Scotland and Ireland enjoy a strong economic relationship. Irish exports to Scotland exceed IR£600 million and there are 120 Irish manufacturing companies actively pursuing business opportunities there. A further 30 Irish companies have operations in Scotland. The new Consulate-General of Ireland in Edinburgh has been instrumental in establishing the Scottish-Irish Business Forum which will be launched in Scotland next month.
EU issues of common interest and cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking are expected to be high on the agenda for tomorrow's talks. Scotland and Ireland will be partners in the British-Irish Council when the Good Friday Agreement comes into force. The Council will bring together the Irish and British Governments, the new devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands to discuss and promote cooperation among the members.