'Aggressive engagement' needed with US members of Congress to boost ties with Ireland, government told

The government has been told that visits by US politicians to Ireland should be ramped up as part of a strategy to boost relations between the two countries.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney briefed ministers on a review of US-Irish relations that says there should be “aggressive engagement” with members of Congress elected in today’s mid-term election in a bid to “deepen links”.

The review of Irish-US relations comes after a July meeting facilitated by the Washington-based Brookings Institute to identify strengths and weaknesses and actions that are needed.

The meeting was attended by government ministers, the secretaries general of the Department of the Taoiseach, Foreign Affairs and Business, and Julie Sinnamon, the chief executive of Enterprise Ireland.

EU Commissioner Phil Hogan is also said to have contributed along with ambassadors including Dan Mulhall – Ireland’s top diplomat in the US.

A report following the meeting makes a number of recommendations to government which are to be developed through the Global Ireland strategy.

The review found that Taoisigh and Irish ministers have made 169 visits to the US since 2012.

It argues that this level of engagement should continue but also that Ireland should increase the number of incoming visits from the US.

According to the report figures like US-mayors, federal politicians and members of Congress should be encouraged to travel here.

It also says there should be “aggressive engagement” with the Friends of Ireland caucus in the US Congress to “deepen links” with the newly elected members who will be taking office in January of next year.

The report calls for more Irish staff on the ground in the US – including those with skill-sets in culture, technology and science – and for the opening of a consulate in Los Angeles.

The report refers to Brexit, pointing out that Ireland will be the only principally English-speaking country in the EU once Britain departs and highlights the close existing ties with the US.

It also speaks of the “invaluable role” of the Irish diaspora in the US.

The memo to Cabinet came days before US President Donald Trump’s aborted visit to Ireland was due to take place.

Mr Trump had planned to come to Ireland around November 12 as part of his itinerary for Armistice Day in Europe where he is to mark the centenary of the ceasefire that signalled the end of World War One.

He had announced an intention to visit Ireland including his golf club in Co Clare but this was postponed for scheduling reasons.

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