Peter Burke, TD, Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, in Rome with Fr Kieran Cronin, Multyfarnham, and Fr Padraig Brehony Athlone.

Working from Rome for St Patrick's Day

Minister Peter Burke spent St Patrick’s Day and the two days preceding it in Italy, representing the government. The Mullingar TD is European Affairs Minister, and he said he was delighted to head to Milan, Bologna, Rome and Vatican City for the busy St Patrick’s theme visit.

He arrived in Milan early on Wednesday to begin with a visit to an outdoor Irish photography exhibition on the main shopping thoroughfare.

“I was absolutely delighted to see that it featured a photo of Sean’s Bar, Athlone,” said Miniter Burke.

“There was a food expo and Irish food producers doing demonstrations of their products and we met local traditional musicians and Irish dancers. I also met the staff of Tourism Ireland, the Irish Embassy in Rome, Bord Bia and Enterprise Ireland, all who are busy in what is their peak time of year for business and trade promotion.”

The Irish team at Cosmoprof Worldwide Bologna.

There was an early start the next morning, for a train to Bologna and the largest beauty trade fare in the world, Cosmoprof Worldwide Bologna.

“For the first time, Enterprise Ireland had organised an Irish pavilion to support Irish traders who wanted the opportunity to sell their products to a more international audience of suppliers,” said Ministe3r Burke.

“There were eight companies present, and it was great to meet representatives of each and discuss the current market and their experience of trying to grow their business offerings across Europe.

“We travelled on to Rome then, where there was a St Patrick’s Day reception for the Holy See. Ireland has two separate embassies in the Rome area, like most countries, a national embassy for Italy, and a Holy See Embassy for the Vatican.

Minister Burke with Ambassador Frances Collins and Archbishop Paul Gallagher.

“At the Holy See reception, we met our ambassador from Clonakilty, Frances Collins. She and her team had invited the Irish community in the Vatican, who include two priests from Westmeath, Fr Kieran Cronin, who travelled over from Multyfarnham, and who delivered the homily on St Patrick’s Day, and Fr Padraig Brehony from Athlone, who is based in Rome.

“It was great engaging with the clergy, including a number of nuns. The next day was St Patrick’s Day and we attended a lovely ceremony in St Isidore’s, a traditionally Irish parish of Franciscans. We then headed to Vatican City, to meet Archbishop Paul Gallagher, who is the Holy See’s version of Minister for Foreign Affairs; his title is Secretary for Relations with States.

“We had lunch at the Irish Seminary and then I met the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Raffaele Fitto.”

The final event of the day was a reception for the diplomatic and Irish community, hosted by Patricia O’Brien, Irish ambassador to Rome, at the Villa Spada, where the Irish Embassy is based.

“We had an early flight back to Dublin Saturday which rounded off a hectic but productive few days.

“While these trips are enjoyable, you can really see the value they bring when you see the access you receive as an Irish minister when it comes to key political actors. It’s also important to see first-hand the experience of Irish companies, the support they receive from Enterprise Ireland and the further support that could benefit them in the future.

“ I also use it as an opportunity to sell Ireland, to sell Longford Westmeath as a great place to base a business in and invest in, and I was glad to have the opportunity to do that on all three days.”

Minister Burke addressing clergy at a Holy See reception.