Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed is set to travel to the United Kingdom as part of the annual series of Irish Government engagements to mark St. Patrick’s Day today (Tuesday, March 13).

Speaking in advance of the trip, Minister Creed stressed the significance of the itinerary against the backdrop of Brexit:

“The St. Patrick’s Day festival, now celebrated globally, offers a unique opportunity for the Irish Government to put its best foot forward for the country in promoting trade and fostering business relationships against an overall backdrop of celebrating our diaspora and their achievements all over the world.

“This year, in the context of an impending Brexit, my itinerary takes on an important added dimension,” the minister said.

My political meetings and trade promotion events will be marked by the Government’s firm intention to secure and strengthen our market in the UK for Irish agri-food products.

Minister Creed will meet with chief executive officers of major buyers of Irish food and drink in the UK.

Included among Minister Creed’s priorities for the visit will be political and other meetings with the UK Government and administration.

The programme will feature a meeting with Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Michael Gove, where discussions will include Brexit and potential impacts on the agri-food and fisheries sector.

He will also undertake a comprehensive programme of Irish community, cultural, political and promotional activities in London from today until Sunday (March 18).

London parade

Minister Creed’s programme includes attendance at the launch of an Embassy and Transport for London partnership to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on the London Underground; meetings with Irish business and professional networks; engagement with the Irish arts community; attendance as guest of honour at the London St. Patrick’s Festival Ball; leading the London St. Patrick’s Day Parade and addressing the St. Patrick’s Festival in Trafalgar Square celebration.

On Sunday Minister Creed, along with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, will accompany this year’s Parade Grand Marshalls, Gloria Hunniford and Imelda Staunton, in leading the St. Patrick’s Day Parade to Trafalgar Square.

The itinerary will conclude following a formal meeting with the mayor, as well as the minister taking the opportunity to meet Irish food companies participating in the festival and with representatives of community organisations attending the event.

Minister Creed will also represent the Government at a number of political receptions to mark St. Patricks Day including the annual CHAMP reception in Westminster.

Minister Creed added: “The period around St. Patrick’s week is of significance to the Irish community in Britain and furthermore an exciting week for UK-Irish relations with Cheltenham as well as Ireland’s attempt in Twickenham to garner only a third Grand Slam in history underlining our shared interests and friendly rivalry in a number of sporting spheres.”