Plan to increase Irish diplomatic footprint overseas criticised as "PR stunt"

Ireland is set to double its presence by 2025

Plan to increase Irish diplomatic footprint overseas criticised as "PR stunt"

[Flickr/The Merry Monk]

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has has announced plans to double Ireland's global footprint by 2025.

He made the remarks as part of his three-day official visit to Canada.

Mr Varadkar told a business breakfast in Toronto: "I intend to double the Team Ireland footprint overseas by 2025.

"This means new and augmented diplomatic missions and as well as significantly increased resources for our investment, tourism, cultural and food agencies overseas."

He said this work is already underway.

Earlier this month, he asked the Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney to begin consideration of what this means for diplomatic missions.

The Government will approve the specifics of the plan later this year.

However, Fianna Fáil spokesperson for foreign affairs Darragh O'Brien dismissed the idea.

Deputy O'Brien said: "Reheating this non-announcement, which has already been made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, and presenting it as a major development is too much.

"The Taoiseach's announcement fell apart almost immediately, when he admitted that there is no plan, no costings, no priorities in terms of countries and no schedule.

"This is the second time in just a month that a promise has been made by Leo Varadkar without even basic costings or details in place.

"Of course the other irony in this latest PR stunt is that Mr Varadkar's time in Cabinet has been a period of halting diplomatic expansion and actually closing embassies."

He added: "Fianna Fáil has repeatedly called for investment in our foreign affairs and trade presence overseas in response to the dangers posed by Brexit."

The plan to increase Ireland's diplomatic presence comes as figures show more than 500,000 passports have already been issued this year.