Nick Clegg Makes First Official Visit To Ireland, Hails Historic Year For Country
Nick Clegg will make his first official visit to Ireland on Friday, after a "historic year" for the country's relations with Britain.
The deputy prime minister will say that the UK's relationship is "shackled no longer" in a reception for business leaders in association with UK Trade & Investment and the British Chamber of Commerce in the evening.
"Eight months ago the symbolism and success of the Queen’s visit and the warmth with which she and Prince Phillip were received were recognised worldwide," Clegg is expected to tell attendees.
“The legacy of history has sometimes shackled our friendship. After this last historic year, surely we can say our friendship is shackled no longer. For many people, this is the closest we have been in living memory – some would say the closest we have ever been."
The Liberal Democrat leader will hail the importance of trade relations given the tough economic times.
"The challenges we face have brought the importance of our friendship into stark focus. And we see clearly that so much more unites us than divides us; that we are stronger together - standing shoulder to shoulder as real and equal partners – than we are when we stand apart, and we can play our part together in leading a European recovery.”
During his visit Clegg will meet with the new Irish President Michael D Higgins and have meetings with the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, the Tánaiste, Eamon Gilmore, and the minister for jobs, enterprise and innovation, Richard Bruton. Alex Salmond, also in Ireland, will attend the meeting with Enda Kenny.
Clegg and the deputy prime minister of Ireland will sign a Memorandum of Understanding which will pledge close cooperation with between Britain and Ireland during crises in different countries.
The UK will share information on planning and could share responsibilities with Ireland, improve cooperation and information sharing and even begin a staff exchange programme between the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.