As Chair of the Foreign Affairs and Trade and Defence Oireachtas Committee I had further detailed discussions in relation to a number of issues with Mr Paola Serpi, Ambassador of Italy to Ireland.
The Ambassador assured me of Italy’s continued support for the Irish position in relation to Brexit and the need to ensure no return to borders of the past on this island. There are very substantial bilateral trade relations between both countries and major Italian companies have substantial enterprises here. Similarly many leading Irish companies have major business interests in Italy.
There is a great deal of mutual cultural interest between Ireland and Italy and Irish literature is studied in many Italian Universities. Approximately 32,000 Italian students come to Ireland to learn English each year. Of course our own Conor O’Shea manages the Italian Rugby Team.
We also discussed the very serious migration issues and the terrible loss of life in the Mediterranean and the need for a comprehensive European wide response.