She was also accompanied by Mr. James Harrington, Program Officer, Irish Aid, Embassy of Ireland, and Republic of Sierra Leone. The Director and her delegation were in Liberia on official visit from the 13th to 14th of October 2016, to hold discussions with authorities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other relevant government stakeholders.
According to a Foreign Ministry release, during the meeting held in the Conference Room of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the two sides exchanged views on critical bilateral and multilateral issues of mutual interest.
In brief introductory remarks, the Irish Ambassador-designate to Liberia, who headed the Irish delegation, told the Acting Minister that their mission was to ascertain Ireland’s relationship with countries in West Africa, particularly Liberia and Sierra Leone as well as to hold talks with the Liberian government on the prospects and challenges of Ireland-Liberia relations and to renew the existing cooperation subsisting between both countries.
Following discussions with the Acting Minister, Ms. Campbell, who accompanied her country’s Director for Africa Unit, told the Minister that while in Liberia, they will be deeply reflecting on some of the positive partnerships that marked the Ireland-Liberia relationship.
The Ambassador-designate also used the occasion to formally introduced Ms. Gilsenan, Director of Africa Unit in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to the Acting Foreign Minister. She disclosed that the visiting Director’s role is to ensure that the partnership and cooperation between Liberia and Ireland is solidified and deepened to the mutual benefit of the two nations and to also strengthen the Irish engagement with other African countries.
Receiving the delegation, Acting Foreign Minister Shoniyin thanked the Ambassador-designate for her frequent visit to Liberia especially being accompanied by relevant officials from Ireland, who have come to deepen that country’s engagements in Liberia.
While introducing officials of the Ministry, the Acting Minister stated, “I am very happy Madam Director that you have come to Monrovia with vast experiences. When I heard you were coming, I was highly impressed. I think that was a strategic decision taken by your country to put us in a better position. I am convinced that this will surely deepen our engagement.”
Commenting on Africa as a continent, Acting Minister Shoniyin stressed that the process of democratization in Africa is going on slowly and that there has always been doubts as to whether Africa is going to succeed in being fully democratized. He said this can largely be attributed to the numerous upheavals or civil unrests, and the interventions of the military in political and democratic processes in Africa, adding that Africa is gradually trying to get on the full path of democracy.
Moreover, Acting Minister Shoniyin observed that Liberia has experienced its own share of the slow pace of the democratization process taking place across Africa, especially from the 1980s -1990s when the country experienced a full scale civil war during which the rule of law was totally abrogated, noting, “Today, we are back on course especially in the last thirteen years.”
The Acting Minister further noted that Liberia has made some progress in its democratization processes. He noted that Ireland has been a very strong partner in these efforts. Hon. Shoniyin, who is also the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, asserted that the contribution of the Irish troops to UNMIL peacekeeping operations in Liberia and its engagement in other important sectors of Liberia clearly signify a symbol of strong partnership between the two countries.
The Acting Minister described the Irish intervention in the health, education and governance in Liberia as something that represents an enduring friendship and partnership between Liberia and Ireland.
He further expressed confidence that the two countries will continue to have conversations aimed at enhancing their partnership and broaden the friendly ties in the years ahead.
Acting Foreign Minister Shoniyin also advanced that within the context of strengthening their international engagements, a MOU between the Foreign Ministries of both countries should be signed to enhance political consultations especially when gearing up for the UN General Assembly.
He said this will enable the two nations to bring to the table what to share with each other and what their joint interests are like before engagement at high level discussions.
For her part, the Director of Africa Unit in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ms. Gilsenan said she was in Liberia to ensure that the partnership between the two countries was strengthened, taking into consideration the priority needs of Liberia. She told the Acting Minister that her visit will also focus on the challenges that Liberia faces in its democratization process.
“We want to work with Liberia in making sure that we deepen cooperation and ties. Though we do not have an embassy here currently, but we will work to ensure that we have our diplomatic presence felt here. We will continue to work through our Embassy in Freetown to deepen our existing ties with Liberia both at the domestic and international forums,” she stated.
Ms. Gilsenan also disclosed that as part of her mission, she would be partnering with other African nations to identify a common agenda for engagement in terms of priority areas adding: “We appreciate the cordial working relationship with African countries.”
On the issue of development cooperation, she noted that her government will focus on good governance, peace, security, regional and sub-regional issues.
“We will be reflecting on some of our programs here including our engagement in peace, educational programs in the past and political prospective within Liberia. We will hold talks with your colleagues in other sector ministries, including health and hope that we can continue that kind of partnership engagement,” she added.
She hailed her country’s bilateral cooperation with Liberia and hoped to deepen its engagement in the areas of peace and security to the mutual benefit to the two sides.
“We will continue our engagement with Liberia to see what are Liberia’s needs and priorities to broaden our existing partnership,” she indicated