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Enterprise, tourism and trade focus of Minister Zappone’s visit to Italy. St Patrick’s Day opportunity to further build relationship with key EU Partner. Events in Milan, Rome, Embassy to the Holy See and Gildone to mark St Patrick’s Day

Building on strong enterprise, tourism and trade links will be the focus of a four-day St Patrick’s Day mission to Milan, Rome, the Embassy to the Holy See and the Italian town of Gildone by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone.

There will be a number of cultural events to celebrate the holiday including the greening of the Colosseum, the traditional receptions at the Embassies of Ireland to Italy and the Holy See as well the visit to Gildone, the home place of the Minister’s great-grandparents which is joining the worldwide celebrations for the first time.

Speaking before leaving Dublin Minister Zappone said:

“The bonds between Ireland and Italy are unbreakable. St Patrick may be our Patron Saint but he was of course of Roman and therefore Italian heritage. It is right that we should celebrate this historic link by seeking to further build on our modern relationship to the benefit of both countries.

In Milan I will be joining Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland, the IDA and Tourism Ireland to promote enterprise, tourism and trade. More than 300 Irish firms export to Italy to a value of €13 billion a year – ranging from medical devices, dairy products to telecommunication equipment. This trade translates into jobs at home.

Italian firms are also big employers in Ireland, ranging from food and wine importers to Unicredit’s asset management base in Dublin.

More and more Italian accents can be heard at our tourist destinations. Fifteen Italian airports now have links to Ireland with 22,000 seats available each week over the summer summer. During my visit a number of Irish Festivals will take place to promote Ireland as a holiday destination.

I look forward to meeting the Irish Community in Rome at the reception in our Embassy to Italy and when I attend a reception at the Embassy to the Holy See, it will be an opportunity for updates on the preparations for the World Meeting of Families in August.

I also look forward to visiting Gildone. The town and region will be celebrating St Patrick’s Day for the first time. During my brief visit there will be an opportunity to increase awareness about Ireland particularly when I meet local school children. Each year 32,000 Italian students visit Ireland to learn English.

It is more important than ever that Ireland strengthens relationships within Europe. St Patrick’s Day offers us a unique opportunity to do so and I look forward to using the busy days ahead to strengthening Irish-Italian friendships and links.”