The French ambassador Vincent Guerend had a busy day in Dundalk on Wednesday visiting DkIT, the County Council and the Chamber with his two assistants Delphine Tessier and Claire Godard.
The ambassador was keen to hear the views of the Chamber on several matters. These included the Northern Ireland Protocol, Brexit and the wider question of trade with France. He stressed the historical links with Ireland but emphasised the new links including a quadrupling of sailings to France since before Brexit and the creation of an interconnector which has the capacity to supply 11% of our needs. It also gives us the stability of direct access to the EU power grid. It also offers us the opportunity to export wind generated power.
Paddy Malone in reply explained the close links with Newry and the fact that our 7th post Brexit conference is to take place on 8th March. He emphasised the fact that the NI Protocol was succeeding in allowing trade to move North South freely. He emphasised that as its not broken, please don’t fix it. He also explained Dundalk’s unique position sitting directly in the centre of the 2040 National Development Plan are of the M1 corridor of Drogheda, Dundalk Newry.
We also referred to the need of our food producers in this region to have continued access to the British market.
The MI corridor makes Dundalk an ideal location for British companies seeking an EU presence plus a perfect second location out of Dublin.
Paddy also took the opportunity to stress the need to ensure that Northern Ireland and its people would retain their rights as EU citizens with full access to the EU. The ambassador also asked about other industries in the area and Paddy outlined both our mature indigenous history in engineering and drink plus the new emerging companies such as Kaseya and WuXi.
The meeting concluded with an invitation to return to see the Cooley Gullion Mourne region.