About Us Brief of India-Ireland Bilateral Relations

Embassy of India



 Brief on India-Ireland Bilateral Relations 

India-Ireland interactions go back to the nineteenth century, when a significant number of Irishmen joined the British Civil Service, medical and engineering services and colonial army regiments in India. During this period, Irish missionaries and educationists also spread out into all regions of India. These links were further strengthened by the connections between the nationalist movements of the two countries since the early 1990s. Noble laureates Rabindranath Tagore and W.B. Yeats inspired each other.

2. Formal diplomatic links between India and Ireland were established in 1947. India opened an Embassy in Dublin in 1951. The Irish Embassy in New Delhi was opened in 1964 (before Moscow, Tokyo, Beijing), and Honorary Consulates in Mumbai and Bengaluru in 1976 and 2000 respectively. New Honorary Consulates were established in Chennai and Kolkata in 2010. In 2017, Irish Government announced opening of a regular Consulate in Mumbai, which will be officially inaugurated this year.    

3. The people-to-people relations between the two countries were particularly strengthened after the crash of an Air India aircraft, Kanishka, off the south-western coast of Ireland on 23 Jun 1985 in a terrorist bombing. The extraordinary level of solidarity, support and assistance extended by the local population to the victims’ families created a unique bond. A commemorative stone plaque was installed at the village of Ahakista which lies near the site of the crash and annual commemoration ceremony is organized by the locals. Minister of State for External Affairs, Gen V.K. Singh (Retd) attended the 30th anniversary of the crash held at Ahakista on 23 Jun 2015.  

4. Ireland has consistently supported India in its fight against terror.  In the aftermath of the Pulwama cross-border terrorist incident in which more than 40 of our security personnel were killed (14 Feb 2019), Irish Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Simon Coveney issued a statement (19 Feb 2019), strongly condemning the suicide bombing, expressing concern at the increasing levels of violence in the region and maintaining that Ireland will continue to work with India and the international community to support a comprehensive international response to preventing and countering terrorism.  Overall, Ireland is sensitive to India’s approach on J&K.  However, there is a  temptation at times on the part of a minority of analysts to extrapolate the Northern-Ireland experience to the J&K situation.  But the Irish Government has resisted such initiatives in recognition of our sensitivities on the matter.  

5. VVIP/Ministerial Visits: PM Narendra Modi visited Ireland (23 Sep 2015) and met the then Irish PM (Taoiseach) Enda Kenny. The PM also met the Indian community at a community event organized by the Embassy. Subsequently, on the assumption of post of Premiership by Indian-origin Leo Varadkar (40 years of age), PM Narendra Modi congratulated him on telephone (16 Jun 2017) and at the same time, issued an invitation to him for visiting India.  Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O'Connor visited India (Feb 2018) to attend the Irish Education Fair. Since 2005, an Irish Minister has visited India on St. Patrick’s Day (National Day), except for last couple of years. Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation, John Halligan visited India (Feb 2017). Minister of State for Employment and Small Business, Mr. Pat Breen led a trade delegation to India (Nov 2016).  Minister for Public Expenditure Reforms, Mr. Brendan Howlin visited India (Mar 2016). Other visits included visits of Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. James Reilly (Mar 2015), Minister for Children Ms. Frances Fitzgerald (Mar 2013), Minister of State for European Affairs, Mr. Paschal Donohoe (to participate in  ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in New Delhi, Nov 2013), Minister of State for Education and Skills, Research and Innovation, Mr. Damien English (Nov 2014) and Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mr. Richard Bruton (Nov 2013 and Apr 2014).  More recently, Minister of State for Health, Jim Daly visited  Mumbai and Delhi (March 2019) on occasion of St. Patrick’s Day and the main take-away was decision to work on an MoU on Health. Secretary General of Dept of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Niall Burgess, visited India (April 2019).  

6. Major Agreements: (i) Agreement on Air Transport (Feb 1991); (ii) Agreement on Foreign Office Consultations (Oct 1993); (iii) MOU on Joint Working Group on Information Technology (Apr 2000); (iv) Agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation (Nov 2000); (v) Agreement on Cooperation in Culture; (vi) Agreement on Scientific and Technological Cooperation and (vii) Agreement on Cooperation between Science Foundation Ireland(SFI) and Indian National Science Academy (2006); (viii) Arrangement on authorization for dependents of Diplomatic, Consular, Technical and Administrative Staff of Diplomatic and Consular Missions to engage in Gainful Employment (21 Mar 2018); (ix) MOU on Education needs to be finalized (could not be signed during visit of PM Modi in Aug 2015). 

7. Foreign Office Consultations (FOCs): The last round was held in New Delhi in Nov  2017, during which comprehensive discussions were held on bilateral, regional and global issues.  The next round is expected to be held in Dublin in Q-II of 2019. 

8. Bilateral Trade in Goods and Services: Bilateral trade in goods between India and Ireland in 2018 touched around US$ 900 mn.  India’s exports to Ireland were US$ 560 mn and India’s imports from Ireland were US$ 327 mn. The balance of trade was in favour of India. Main Items imported from India were machinery and mechanical appliances, telecommunications equipment, computer accessories, precision equipment and pharmaceuticals. Main items exported from India were organic chemicals, textiles, garments & clothing accessories, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, machinery, light engineering goods, plastics and rubber.  The opening of the Irish Consulate General in Mumbai is expected to trigger the trade volumes. Trade in services between India and Ireland has emerged as a major facet in economic relations.  The total trade in services for 2017-18 was  US$ 3.7 bn, of which exports to India were US$ 2.97 bn and imports US$ 0.798 bn. 

9. Investments and technical know-how: We have been encouraging the Irish companies to engage in our major flagship programmes like “Make in India”, “Digital India”, “Clean India”, “Smart Cities”, etc. Ireland also has strengths in sectors like agriculture (feeding technology for mulch animals to augment milk production); aviation (aircraft leasing, airport management); tourism (low cost carriers); Major Irish companies which have presence in India are CRH Taxback Group; Connolly Red Mills, Globoforce, Keventer, ICON, Kerry Group, Diageo, Glanbia. Major Indian companies which have presence in Ireland include Pinewood/Wockhardt, Reliance Genemedix, Crompton Greaves, Deepak Fasteners, Jain Irrigation Systems, Wipro, TCS, Infosys, Shapoorji Pallonji, Amneal Pharmaceuticals and HCL. 

10. Education: Of late, Ireland is becoming a significant destination for Indian students seeking higher education, particularly post-graduate, doctoral and post-doctoral students in the areas of engineering, technology, medicine, and management. There are around 4,500 Indian students in Irish higher educational institutions. Eight higher education government scholarships were awarded by Ireland for 2018-19 while a further 200 scholarships have been offered on institutional basis by Irish higher education institutions.  The Trinity College and Thapar University, Patiala have an MOU for joint degree programme in five engineering and science disciplines. The Dublin City University has received a global Indian-European training  network grant to develop a mulch-disciplinary and inter-sectoral PhD programme. Premier institutions of both countries have been cooperating in the field of science and technology, but this cooperation has been constrained for want of funding commitments. New form of R&D collaboration between our Dept of Bio-technology, Ministry of Science and Science Foundation, Ireland is being explored. A short-duration ICCR Chair on Politics and International Affairs exists at the Dublin City University (DCU).  Proposal is being examined to set up Hindi/Sanskrit Chair at University College Dublin/Trinity College/Dublin City University. 

11. A constraint in this sector is de-recognition of medical internships done in India for post-graduate specialist jobs in Ireland, making it difficult for Indian medical consultants to find jobs in Ireland.  Indian internships were accepted previously, but the situation changed since 2011.  The Embassy is working with the Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland for resolving the issue.

12. Tourism: About 37,000 Irish tourists visited India in 2017 (figures for 2018-19 are yet to be released). Likewise, Ireland has also become major tourist attraction for Indian tourists particularly after the introduction of common British Irish visa scheme. Electronic Tourist Visa facility was extended to Ireland w.e.f. 15 Aug 2015. However, there is no reciprocity on the Irish side, who take inordinately long in issuance of visas (tourism /business /education /employment).  This is being taken up at all levels. 

13. IDY: The fourth International Day of Yoga (IDY) was celebrated in Herbert Park, Dublin (16 Jun 2018) in collaboration with the Dublin City Council, with participation of around 800 people.   For the first time the IDY was also celebrated along with Summer Solstice at the Iconic site of Hill of Tara, which was the seat of ancient Irish High Kings (21 Jun 2018).  There are plans to take IDY 2019 to various cities throughout Ireland. 

14. Gandhi@150: A series of activities have been planned for Gandhi@150. A major celebration was held at St. Patricks Cathedral in collaboration with City Council (02 Oct 2018), at which a major feature was rendition by famous musician Tom Toher of “Vaishnav Jan To Tene Kahiye”.  

15. Culture: A major Cultural Festival of India is being planned for 2020.  The local Indian community is strongly supported by the Embassy for its various cultural performances,  representing various States. Indian Food Festivals are also planned.  A major event in the cultural calendar is the annual Indian Film Festival, with screening of contemporary films, participation of film actors/directors and thematic panel discussions.  

16. Indian Community: There is approximately 35,000 Indian origin population in Ireland, of whom approx. 21,500 are PIOs and approx. 13,500 are NRIs. The bulk of the community is in health-care, IT, engineering and senior management positions. The community is well-regarded locally and has integrated well into Irish society.  Some major Irish Govt decisions in recent past have had positive repercussions for Indian community: (i) allowing wearing of turbans and hijabs as part of police uniform code (Apr 2019); (ii) non-requirement of obtaining additional work permit for spouses and partners of Critical Skill Employment Permit holders (Mar 2019) which is likely to attract more Indian high-skilled workers to Ireland, particularly in high-tech, medical and management sectors. (iii) Non-requirement of obtaining re-entry visa for GNIB card holders (Apr 2019).  

Website: www.indianembassydublin.gov.in

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(April, 2019)