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Zappone to make historic first Irish Ministerial visit to Namibia
Four countries included in Southern Africa St Patrick’s Day Mission 
Statement by Minister Katherine Zappone 


Thursday 14th March 2019

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, will travel to four countries in Southern Africa for St. Patrick’s Day to deepen Ireland’s relationship with the region. 

Minister Zappone’s visit will focus on deepening political and economic links with South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia and Botswana, and on engaging with the large Irish community in the region.

The trip will include the first ever official visit by an Irish Government Minister to Namibia (Monday 18th March 2019). During the visit, Minister Zappone will meet the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister and the First Lady of Namibia. 

Speaking at the start of the Ministerial mission, Minister Zappone said: 

“St Patrick’s Day is celebrated by our people worldwide and it is an honour to be able to join those communities which are some of the furthest from home. 

On the day itself I look forward to joining members of the 30,000 strong Irish community in South Africa as they mark the national holiday with traditional music and song. 

During my meetings with each of the four Governments I will be delivering key messages on Brexit and our bid for a seat on the UN Security Council for the period 2021-22. 

On Brexit the message is clear. There is nothing for companies behind the €1.35 billion in annual bilateral trade between Ireland and South Africa to fear. Our economic links are sound and will continue. 

In terms of the United Nations bid, it will be important to highlight Ireland’s proud track record on peacekeeping and our commitment to UN reform, including a stronger voice for Africa. 

This visit, like those being undertaken by Ministers across the world, comes at a key time as Ireland continues to increase its global foot-print. I look forward to fruitful discussions in the days ahead.”