Ireland announced on Monday that Manchester will be the location for a new Consulate General of Ireland for the North of England.
“Opening a Consulate in the North of England will fulfil one of the Programme for Government’s commitments to develop Irish-British relations,” said Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs.
“It is hoped that the first Consul General will be in place in the first half of 2021.
“Following formal notification to the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) late last week, arrangements are now being made for this new diplomatic office, which will bring the number of Irish diplomatic missions in Great Britain to four.”
The others are the Embassy of Ireland in London and the Consulates General in Edinburgh and Cardiff.
The Consulate General will join a recently-opened Enterprise Ireland office in Manchester, set up in 2019 to help Irish companies seek opportunities and partnerships across the north of England.
It will work closely with the Embassy in London and all Irish state agencies based in Britain.
The coverage area of the new diplomatic mission — known as the Consular Area — is expected to comprise the three regions of the north of England: North West, North East and Yorkshire and The Humber.
The Irish Government said the three English regions which comprise the North of England — North West, North East and Yorkshire and The Humber — have a combined population of 15.5 million and a GDP of £412 billion – a GDP figure equivalent to one of Europe’s top 12 economies.
Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, said: “Moving ahead with plans for a new Consulate in the North of England is a really strong signal of Ireland’s commitment to the Irish-British relationship.
“When opened, this new Consulate General at the heart of the north of England will upgrade our capacity to advance our commercial interests and our cultural and people-to-people links.
“I am especially delighted to be making this announcement today as the Tánaiste and I prepare to welcome a virtual visit from Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, and Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region.
“Enhancing our collaboration with regional and local government in Britain will be a big part of our work to deepen Irish-British links.
“We look forward to a valuable exchange with Mayors Burnham and Rotheram today, who between them represent areas with a combined population of 4.3 million people and with deep historic links to Ireland”.
Enterprise Ireland CEO Julie Sinnamon said: “Enterprise Ireland warmly welcomes the announcement of a new Consulate General for the North of England.
“The North West of England is a very dynamic business environment. Reflective of this, in 2019, Enterprise Ireland opened a second office in the UK, based in Manchester, to develop and sustain Irish export growth to the UK. In the North West of England there are particularly strong opportunities in infrastructure, housing, clean energy and transport, healthcare and manufacturing.
“While Brexit introduces challenges and complexity to the market, the UK will continue to be an important and attractive market for Irish enterprise.
“In 2019, Enterprise Ireland client companies achieved the highest ever recorded exports to the UK and overall grew by 2% to €7.9bn.
“We look forward to working with the Consulate General to strengthen Ireland’s presence in the region.”