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Paul Madden

British Ambassador to Japan

Part of UK in Australia

9th April 2014

Britain and Ireland: a shared future

A joint blog with the Irish Ambassador to Australia, HE Noel White

When the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, this week pays the first State Visit to Britain by an Irish Head of State, it will be an historic and joyous occasion, mirroring that by Her Majesty the Queen, to Ireland, in 2011.

HE Paul Madden and HE Noel White
HE Paul Madden and HE Noel White

The President’s visit will symbolise a relationship between Ireland and Britain which has never been stronger or more settled.

The history of Anglo-Irish relations has been complex and at times turbulent. For many years it played directly into domestic politics in Australia as migrants’ views were shaped by issues and divisions from the old countries. So the transformation in the relationship in recent decades, and particularly since the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, has been warmly welcomed and indeed supported here in Australia, a close friend of both countries.

The Irish and the British are deeply connected peoples. The President’s visit will incorporate many symbolic moments of reflection on the lessons of our shared history. But the main focus will be on the unique breadth and depth of the current relationship. At its heart lie the personal and family ties which flow from the movement of people between the two countries over the years. The UK is home to the largest Irish-born community outside of Ireland and to a vast number of people of Irish descent. Over recent decades many British people have settled, married and raised their families in Ireland. British citizens in Ireland outnumber all other non-Irish nationalities.

As an Irish Ambassador, and as a British High Commissioner with an Irish grandparent, we are both part of that relationship. Together we are often reminded of the cultural and sporting interests we share through many of our activities here in Australia whether jointly “barracking” for the British and Irish Lions in their battles with the Wallabies last year; marvelling at the bloodstock from both countries on that quintessentially Australian occasion, the Melbourne Cup; or enjoying the musical talent on display at the National Folk Festival where the shared traditions of Ireland, Britain and indeed Australia are there for all to see.

As befits close neighbours the economic ties between Ireland and Britain are intense. Goods and services to the value of A$1.5 billion are traded between the two countries every week of the year. The UK is Ireland’s most important market. The UK exports more to Ireland than it does to China, India and Brazil combined. There are more companies from Ireland listed on the London Stock Exchange than from any other country. Earlier this year Ministers from Dublin, Belfast and London took part in a unique joint trade mission to Singapore to promote Irish and British products.

We also share many values in our approach to the world, particularly as articulated through our membership of the European Union and the United Nations. We are two of the most open economies in Europe, and key supporters of the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. And as attention turns to the commemoration of the First World War, starting later this year, we will stand together to remember the British, Australian and Irish soldiers who fought shoulder to shoulder in that conflict.

Cooperation in support of reconciliation, prosperity and a shared perspective on Northern Ireland remains at the heart of the British-Irish relationship. That relationship has been both a catalyst for positive change in Northern Ireland and a beneficiary of that change. Ireland and Britain have grown closer through many years of working together, promoting peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland. Today that work continues, in particular in the support the two Governments provide as the Northern Ireland parties seek to complete their work on parades, flags, emblems and dealing with the past.

But this is a relationship which is very much focused on the future. Together the Prime Minister and the Taoiseach have set out a vision for close cooperation and have identified areas where this can be advanced. The visit of President Higgins will reaffirm and celebrate the shared values that unite the Irish and British people. When Australian viewers see on their TV screens the evocative imagery of the President and the Queen against the backdrop of iconic landmarks like Windsor Castle, Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, they will be able to share our confidence in the future of the relationship.

This blog was also carried as a joint op-ed in the Sydney Morning Herald and Canberra Times on 9 April.

About Paul Madden

Paul Madden has been the British Ambassador to Japan from January 2017. He was Additional Director for Asia Pacific at the FCO in 2015.He was British High Commissioner to Australia…

Paul Madden has been the British Ambassador to Japan from January 2017.

He was Additional Director for Asia Pacific at the FCO in 2015.He was British High Commissioner to Australia until February 2015. Prior to this he was British High Commissioner in Singapore from 2007-2011.

A career diplomat, he was previously Managing Director at UK Trade and Investment (2004-2006), responsible for co-ordinating and
implementing international trade development strategies to support
companies across a wide range of business sectors.

As Assistant Director of Information at the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office (2003-2004) he was responsible for public diplomacy policy,
including managing the FCO funding of the BBC World Service, the British
Council and the Chevening Scholarships programme. He led the team
responsible for the award-winning UK pavilion at the Aichi Expo in Japan

He was Deputy High Commissioner in Singapore from 2000-2003 and has
also served in Washington (1996-2000) and Tokyo (1988-92). Between
1992-96 he worked on EU enlargement and Environmental issues at the FCO
in London.

Before joining FCO he worked at the Department of Trade and Industry
(1980-87) on a range of industrial sectors and trade policy, including
two years as a minister’s Private Secretary.

He has an MA in Economic Geography from Cambridge University, an MBA
from Durham University, studied Japanese at London University’s School
of Oriental and African Studies, and is a Fellow of the Royal
Geographical Society. His first book, Raffles: Lessons in Business
Leadership, was published in 2003.

Married to Sarah, with three children, he was born in 1959, in Devon.