The Ambassador of Ireland Catherine Campbell has pledged her government's commitment to supporting the Liberian government in the implementation of the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development.
Ambassador Campbell made the assertion last Thursday at the official launch of the Ireland Embassy in Liberia held at a resort in Monrovia. She further welcomed the objective of the Weah administration, which is to address poverty, inequality, corruption and creating jobs in the country.
According to the Ambassador, the opening of the Embassy of Ireland in Liberia is a new chapter for both countries' relationship. "This Embassy is established as a commitment made under the Irish Government's Global Ireland foreign policy announced last year," Amb. Campbell said.
She recounted that diplomatic relations between Ireland and Liberia established in 2004, adding that the Development Cooperation Office was opened in Monrovia in 2010 and its work still remains the core of the new Embassy.
"We are also proud of the role Irish peacekeepers played as part of the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Liberia with up to 450 members of the Irish Defence Forces deployed here between 2003-2007," she said.
"This is our government's initiative to double the scope of Ireland's global footprint by 2025. It represents the most ambitious renewal and expansion of Ireland's international presence ever undertaken. To do this, 27 new missions will open globally, including this one near Monrovia. This strengthens our presence in West Africa. And moving beyond our traditional focus on aid to building new multi-faceted partnerships," she said.
According to Amb. Campbell, the strategy is to empower women and girls, improving healthcare, reducing malnutrition and gender-based violence. "We will continue to support inclusive democratic processes. Many of you present are our partners in this work, most notably the Government of Liberia."
Ireland officials and Liberian officials at the official launch of the Embassy and celebration of St. Patrick's Day in Monrovia.
Amb. Campbell said St. Patrick's Day is a special day for Ireland. The celebration of the national day is a very important role for a new Embassy. She said over 70 million people globally are Irish citizens or claim Irish heritage and St. Patrick's Day is a special time to connect with them.
"Our gathering in Monrovia joins over 350 events world-wide organized by the Ireland Embassy network from Alaska to Australia. An estimated six million people worldwide are attending parades and related events around the world. The Global Greening program continues to grow," she indicated.
She said over 400 iconic monuments and sites world-wide lit up green last week to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, including the Great Wall of China, the Pyramids in Egypt and Victoria Falls and "we look forward to the first greening in Liberia in the coming years."
Amb. Campbell said St. Patrick's Day was by no means new in Monrovia. She acknowledged Anna O'Huaghaign Bassaibes, stating that unfortunately she was not with "us tonight, but know Anna's annual St. Patrick's events are famous."
Marie K. Coleman, acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and acting Dean of the Cabinet lauded President Michael Higgins and the people of Ireland for the laudable steps that have enabled the establishment of a functional Embassy near Liberia's capital.
"It's pleasing to note this public manner that Liberia-Irish relations have grown to appreciable heights in a very short span of time, subsequent to the formalization of diplomatic ties between our two countries in 2004, evidence reflected in the provision of over 64 million Euro in support of a variety of programs implemented by the government and civil society partners," Ms. Coleman said.
According to Ms. Coleman, these programs strongly focused on strengthening Liberia's health systems, water and sanitation (WASH) gender equality and security sector reform.
Ms. Coleman said to achieve longer-term development goals, "your country works closely with a range of development partners, including governments, the United Nations, National and International Non-governmental organizations, as well as civil society."
Ms. Coleman said the government and people of Liberia appreciate Saint Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland through the lenses of Irish humanitarian interventions in Liberia.
According to her, throughout the Ebola Crisis, Irish Aid provided support to EVD response activities, working with the Ministry of Health and international NGOs to combat the spread of the disease.
According to Ms. Coleman, the Irish Aid continues to provide support to address the consequences of the EVD crisis, focusing particularly on the re-establishment of essential services for the people of Liberia.