Promoting locally produced beef, discussing Brexit and Northern Ireland and a visit to the Vatican were on the agenda for Laois TD and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan in Italy during the St Patrick's Day celebrations.
The Portlaoise-based TD visited to Carrefour's flagship store for Italy in Milan on March 15 to promote Irish beef with Bord Bia. Food is central to the Italian way of life so access to their markets is important for Irish farmers and food producers.
The Carrefour group is one of the biggest in the world and the leading supermarket group in Italy. Ireland is the 5th largest exporter of beef to Italy. Exports are currently worth almost €400m per annum & growing. Ireland recently began exporting organic beef & lamb to Italy.
Among the produce promoted was Irish Hereford prime beef reared on the Laois / Offaly border. The Deverell family farm in Geashill supply Hereford beef to the Carrefour supermarket chain.
"Ireland is the 5th biggest exporter of beef into Italy, with estimated value of €400 million per year, and the quality of our meat is well known there. As Brexit approaches, our links with Italy, and other EU export markets, can be expected to increase even further,” said Minister Flanagan.
Minister Flanagan was in Rome on St Patrick’s Day where he held a series of official engagements including a bilateral meeting with Italy’s Foreign Minister, Angelino Alfano. The future of the EU and Ireland's priorities for the Brexit negotiations are high on the agenda for discussion.
The Mountmellick native also visited the Irish College and addressed St Patrick’s Day receptions at the Irish Embassies. He also traveled to the Vatican for talks with Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.
The minister’s busy schedule included attending the ‘Greening’ of the famous Colosseum in Rome – as part of Tourism Ireland’s Global Greening initiative to celebrate the island of Ireland and St Patrick