The visiting Director of the Africa Unit in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ms. Fionnuala Gilsenan, was led to the Foreign Ministry by the Irish Ambassador accredited to Sierra Leone and Ambassador-designate to Liberia, Ms. Catherine Campbell.
She was also accompanied by Mr. James Harrington, Program Officer, Irish Aid, Embassy of Ireland in Sierra Leone, according to a Foreign Ministry release issued Sunday in Monrovia.
The Director and her delegation were in Liberia on an official visit from October 13-14 to hold discussions with authorities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other relevant government stakeholders.
The two sides exchanged views on critical bilateral and multilateral issues of mutual interest, the release said.
In remarks, the Irish Ambassador-designate to Liberia, who headed the Irish delegation, said 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.
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 Irish engagement with other African countries.
Receiving the delegation, Minister Shoniyin thanked the Ambassador-designate for her frequent visits to Liberia, especially being accompanied by relevant officials from Ireland, who have come to deepen ties and bonds with Liberia.
Commenting on governance in Africa, 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.
The Acting Minister noted that Liberia has made some progress in its democratization processes, adding that Ireland has been “a very strong partner in these efforts.”
Shoniyin cited the contribution of Irish troops to UN peacekeeping operations in Liberia and its engagement in other important sectors of Liberia as clearly signifying a symbol of strong partnership between the two countries.
He also named Irish intervention in the health, education and governance in Liberia as something that represents an enduring friendship and partnership between Liberia and Ireland.
For her part, 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.
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 continue our engagement with Liberia to see what are Liberia’s needs and priorities to broaden our existing partnership,” she indicated.