Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to visit Ireland in the third week of September to give a fresh momentum to bilateral ties, with a clear focus on trade and the Indian diaspora.
A formal announcement in this regard is expected shortly.
Modi will be the first Indian PM to visit Ireland after Jawaharlal Nehru in 1956. During his daylong visit — on his way to the US on September 23 — Modi may also visit Ahakista, a village located near the site where where Air India Kanishka had crashed on June 23, 1985 after a bomb planted by terrorists on the aircraft exploded. Later, a plaque was installed at Ahakista to commemorate the mishap.
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Officials said bilateral trade between India and Ireland is growing over the past few years. Two-way trade in goods which was Euro 463 million in 2010 now stands at Euro 650 million. “There is a lot of scope for growth and this visit can provide some momentum,” an official said.
There are about 26,000 Indians or persons of Indian origin in Ireland, of whom about 17,000 are Indian citizens. The bulk of the community is in healthcare (doctors and nurses), IT, engineering and senior management positions. Officials said that the community is well-regarded locally and has integrated well into the Irish society. “It will be an occasion to connect with this vibrant Indian community as well,” the official said.
Ireland is also becoming a chosen destination for Indian students seeking higher education, particularly postgraduate, doctoral and post-doctoral students. There are over 1,400 Indian students in Irish higher educational institutions. “This will be another area of conversation during the PM’s visit,” an official said.
Traditionally, India has had good relations with Ireland, but no Indian PM has visited the country in the past 60 years.
“PM is keen that high-level visits happen with countries which have not been on the diplomatic radar. That was one of the reasons for scheduling this visit,” an official said.
Jawaharlal Nehru visited Ireland twice — in 1949 and 1956. Irish PM Garrett Fitzgerald visited India for the funeral of Indira Gandhi in 1984. PM Bertie Ahern paid an official bilateral visit in January 2006.