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Coveney meets with top pols in two day D.C. visit

Minister Simon Coveney meeting with Speaker Paul Ryan earlier today


By Ray O’Hanlon

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister, Simon Coveney, held talks today on Capitol Hill with House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Coveney, who was accompanied by the Irish government’s envoy to Congress on the issue of the undocumented Irish, John Deasy, also met with Congress members Joe Crowley, Peter King and Joseph Kennedy III.

Later today, Minister Coveney is due to meet with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Issus on the agenda include Brexit, Northern Ireland and the Middle East Peace Process.

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Yesterday, according to a release, Coveney met with U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

Minister Coveney expressed to Ross his sympathies and conveyed condolences on behalf of the Irish people following Sunday night’s mass shooting in Las Vegas.

He also raised the Bombardier case and the two discussed the overall Ireland-U.S. economic relationship.

Speaking after the meeting with Secretary Ross, Minister Coveney said: “I first of all expressed my sympathies and conveyed condolences on behalf of the people of Ireland to Secretary Ross following the horrific gun attack in Las Vegas on Sunday. Our thoughts are with all of those who died, and with the bereaved and injured who continue to suffer.

“Having already written to Secretary Ross about the Bombardier Case, I was glad of the opportunity to raise it with him in person this morning.

“I outlined to Secretary Ross our concerns at the preliminary finding announced last week and the implications the case could have for Bombardier’s operations in Belfast.

“I explained that if these preliminary findings were to be repeated in a final ruling, the implications for the more than 4,000 people directly employed by Bombardier in the city would be very serious.

“Given that Bombardier is, by some distance, the largest manufacturer and private sector employer in Northern Ireland, the adverse impact on the economy in Northern Ireland would be pronounced.”

Minister Coveney continued: “While I appreciate that this is a commercial dispute on which the US authorities must adjudicate, it is nevertheless important that, as a co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement, the Irish government’s concerns on the potential fall-out are conveyed at the highest level.

“I asked Secretary Ross to consider fully the significance of the case for the security of the economy in Northern Ireland, which is an essential support to the Peace Process.

“The United States, has been instrumental in brokering and consolidating peace in Northern Ireland and has been, and continues to provide immensely valuable support to the Peace Process.

“We also discussed the continuing importance of the Ireland-US economic relationship to both countries.

“While over 700 US companies directly employ some 150,000 people in Ireland, I remarked to Secretary Ross that what is often overlooked is the fact that Ireland is the 7th largest source of FDI (foreign direct investment) into the U.S., with over four hundred Irish companies employing almost 100,000 people, across all fifty States.

“It is very much a two way street and today’s meeting was a timely opportunity, particularly in the context of Brexit, to underline the importance of our trans-Atlantic relationship.”