A 300-strong contingent of students from Scoil Mhuire gan Smál, Blarney, visited the Dáil in early November for a tour of Leinster House. It was great to meet the group while they were in our national parliament, with the Dáil in full swing. Tours of Leinster House are a great way for citizens to experience directly the democratic life of our country. I’m always encouraging interested groups to contact my office so we can organise a tour for you, so please get in touch. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, when the Dáil is in session, are the best times come to Leinster House.
Last month I took part in the National Digital Week in Skibbereen, which was attended by over 1,500 entrepreneurs, technology enthusiasts and those beginning their digital journey. Now in its second year, the aim of the National Digital Week, is to develop entrepreneurship by making digital accessible to everybody. The event is organised by the Ludgate Digital Hub, which is Ireland’s first rural digital hub, based in Skibbereen. The Ludgate Hub is a fantastic example of innovation occurring in rural Ireland and provides a great blueprint for other rural areas, demonstrating how digitisation can drive balanced rural economic development. It’s remarkable to see the extraordinary work that a local community has done in making their town such a frontier in this new and exciting digital age in which we’re all living.
At the end of November I travelled to Berlin for a significant visit focused on Brexit and discussions on the digital agenda with our German partners. I held talks on Brexit with my German counterpart, Minister for Europe Michael Roth and with the influential European Affairs Committee of the German Bundestag, where I emphasised Ireland’s unique concerns in relation to Brexit and our status as a fully committed European Union member state. I was very much heartened by German understanding of the unique impact that Brexit will have on Ireland, particularly in relation to Northern Ireland, the border region and the Common Travel Area between Ireland and Britain.
Last month’s Startup Nations Summit, a flagship global event for Cork that brought members of the startup business community together from around the world, was a resounding success. Huge credit is due to Cork Innovates, Cork Chamber and Startup Ireland, for all the work that went into securing this high profile event for Cork. I was delighted to take part in the Lord Mayor’s civic reception to welcome our international guests to Cork, and also to hold a public civic dialogue with the President of the Committee of the Regions Mr Marku Markulla on the role of cities, local authorities and regions in the European Union.