Manchester chosen for Irish consulate in the north

image captionMore than 137,000 Irish-born people live in the north of England

Manchester has been chosen to be the site for the first Consulate General of Ireland in the north of England.

The consulate will look after the interests of more than 137,000 Irish-born expats from the River Mersey to the Humber from 2021.

The Irish minister for foreign affairs made the announcement after an online meeting with the mayors of the Liverpool and Greater Manchester.

It will be the fourth Irish diplomatic mission in Great Britain.

Foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney said he was delighted.

He added: "Enhancing our collaboration with regional and local government in Britain will be a big part of our work to deepen Irish-British links."

'Strengthen our bonds'

The Irish government said the consulate general will join a recently-opened Enterprise Ireland office in Manchester, set up in 2019 to help Irish companies seek opportunities and partnerships across the north of England.

Prof Jon Tonge, of the University of Liverpool's politics department, said: "This is long overdue when you think of the number of Irish people in the north, especially Manchester and Liverpool.

"It is a long trek to the embassy in London. I have no doubt it has a political and Brexit significance."

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham tweeted: "So many of us in the North West can trace our family roots back to Ireland. So many of our businesses trade with Ireland.

"This is the time to strengthen our bonds."

Mr Burnham and his Merseyside counterpart Steve Rotheram will lead the first-ever joint trade mission to Ireland by two UK city-regions in 2021.

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