Minister Killeen Comments On Foreign Travel

From: Dunphy Public Relations
Published: Wed Dec 17 2008

The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment was responding to a Parliamentary Question from Fine Gael T.D. Leo Varadkar, who had requested a list of visits made by Ministers from that Department to FÁS events abroad since 2000.

It has been widely reported in recent weeks that Minister Killeen, a former Minister for Labour Affairs in the Department, was among five or more Government ministers who have taken separate trips with FÁS to visit the same project in Florida.

Commenting on the clarification of the issue, the Clare T.D. explained that he had not actively sought any clarification on the issue as he did not wish to undermine the worthiness of the "Space Challenge" project.

He continued, "I believe that to have denied ever having represented the Government in Florida would have given the impression that I did not support the FAS initiative. This could not be further from the truth as I am a strong advocate of the project."

"The FÁS Science Challenge Initiative provides graduates, craft persons and apprentices unrivalled, hands on, and highly rewarding work experience opportunities in some of the top science institutes in the US, including NASA in Cape Canaveral, Florida. I believe that the initiative has helped the Government to effectively deliver its strategy for science, technology and innovation, and has encouraged a new generation of younger people to study science and engineering at third level. I saw the benefits of this programme for myself during a 2005 visit to Houston where I met with senior scientists from NASA and science academics from Rice University, one of the top universities in the world," added Minister Killeen.

Since October 2004, Minister Killeen has held Ministerial roles in the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government; Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources; and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

"Since being appointed to my first Junior Ministerial position, I have represented the Government on approximately 40 foreign trips. The vast majority or almost 90% of these visits have involved my attendance, on behalf of the Government, at Council of Ministers meetings where Ministers from each of the EU States make binding policy decisions that impact on citizens throughout the Union. The majority of these meetings are held in Brussels and Luxembourg, while others are hosted by the country holding the EU Presidency at the given time," he explained.

The Minister added, "Other foreign visits include my attendance, as part of my brief as Minister for Labour Affairs, at an OECD meeting in Toronto, an International Labour Organisation seminar in Geneva and a FAS Jobs Fair in New York. I was especially honoured to represent Ireland at a US Episcopal conference in Washington DC during which I was afforded the opportunity to raise the plight of the undocumented Irish in America. I raised this vital issue again earlier this year on Capitol Hill during a meeting with prominent Irish American political figures."

Since 2004, Minister Killeen has represented the Government at local St Patrick's Day celebrations in Cardiff (2005), Sweden/Norway (2006) and Mexico (2008). The Minister did not travel abroad in 2007 and will not be undertaking any foreign visit during St Patrick’s Day 2009.

The Minister commented, "I have been privileged to represent the Government and Ireland abroad during my attendance at these St Patrick’s Day celebrations. I believe that sending Government Ministers abroad for St Patrick's Day offers an excellent opportunity to highlight to a global audience the advantages of doing business in Ireland and to promote Ireland as a world class tourist destination."

"I take great pride in representing County Clare in Dail Eireann and have been privileged to be appointed as a representative for Ireland during my foreign travel," he concluded


Mark Dunphy
Dunphy Public Relations
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