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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 15 November 2018

UAE and Ireland sign parliamentary co-operation deal

Partnership will strengthen ties on everything from education to trade

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, receives Sean O Fearghail, speaker of the Irish Lower House of Parliament. Rashed Al Mansoori / Crown Prince Court - Abu Dhabi 
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, receives Sean O Fearghail, speaker of the Irish Lower House of Parliament. Rashed Al Mansoori / Crown Prince Court - Abu Dhabi 

Ireland and the UAE have signed a parliamentary co-operation agreement to boost future links, from education to trade.

The speaker of the Irish parliament, Sean O Fearghail, signed the agreement on Monday during a visit to the UAE, and also spoke about the lack of accurate reporting on the complex war in Yemen from media outlets in Europe.

One of the aims of the visit was to learn more about issues that are important to Emiratis and chief among them was the situation in Yemen, Mr O Fearghail told The National.

The conflict is in its fourth year and he said the UAE’s commitment to humanitarian aid was not being talked about by the media in Europe.

Mr O Fearghail said the delegation "learnt a lot that we could not learn from the media at home by speaking to the FNC”.

“We want to engage with all parties to encourage a resolution. We also learnt about the level of investment the Emiratis are making in Yemen in support of the people,” he said.

The speaker, or ceann comhairle, will also chair trade meetings and his visit builds on a recent expansion of the Irish presence here. A new ambassador to the UAE, Aidan Cronin, has just started his term while a deputy head of mission has also been added to the team for the first time.

The trip must also be viewed against the uncertain backdrop of Brexit and Mr O Fearghail said the divisive issue had cropped up frequently.

“We were determined to boost engagement long before Brexit but everything becomes more important when that is factored in,” he said.

“There is a very high-level awareness of the problem.”

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Regarding the deal signed with the FNC, Mr Fearghaíl pointed to the introduction in January of visa-free travel to Ireland for Emiratis as an example for future agreements. “It facilitates tourism and all forms of business,” he said.

Other areas of co-operation could now extend to education. Of the more than 10,000 Irish residents in the UAE, many are young teachers.

“Could we offer the UAE an opportunity to train some of its teachers? It is for members of FNC and Dail to decide that.”

Links between the UAE and Ireland stretch back decades, with Irish citizens such as Dubai Duty Free chief executive Colm McLoughlin playing a key role in the early development of the country. Today bilateral trade stands at about €1.7 billion (Dh7.1bn).

Mr O Fearghail met Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, on Monday and leaves the UAE on Thursday.