The Department

The Department of External Relations was established in 1924.  In 1971 the Department of  External Relations became the Department of Foreign Affairs, It became the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 2011.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade seeks to serve the Irish public at home and abroad through a wide range of services.  It seeks to promote and protect Ireland’s interest in the world and contribute to international priorities such as peace, security and the eradication of poverty and hunger.

The Secretary-General is supported by a management advisory committee comprising the assistant secretaries of the Department.

Trade Promotion

The Department’s embassy network seeks to promote Ireland’s economic and trade interests overseas.  The government trade strategy sets out targets for and trade support and investment as well as programs.  The Department of Foreign Affairs works with the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.  The Department of Foreign Affairs plays a role in coordinating the approach in priority markets abroad.

The Department works with the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and with state agencies to help people do business in Ireland.  It also works with Bord Bia, Tourism Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, IDA and Science Foundation Ireland in trade support and promotion.

The Department coordinates the work of the Export Trade Council which is responsible for monitoring the government’s trade strategies.  The Council consists of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs, Agriculture, Jobs, Transport, and the CEOs of the above development agencies.

The Department organizes and shares Ireland’s joint economic commissions with high-growth emerging countries including China, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Russia.

The Department works with the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to support Enterprises Ireland’s program of trade missions. The Department of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of State for trade and development play an important role in trade missions overseas.

Overseas Development

The Department of Foreign Affairs works closely with development partners in relation to Irish aid.  Ireland allocates €628 million in official development assistance, principally to sub-Saharan Africa.

€0.5 billion is managed by Irish Aid and the balance is accounted for through government departments.  Regular audits and evaluations of programs are carried out by the evaluation and audit unit of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

EU and International Orgnsiations

The Department of Foreign Affairs is central to engagement with the European Union. The Department has a coordinating role in relation to Ireland’s approach to the EU to ensure Ireland’s interests are protected.

The Department works with the United Nations and other multilateral institutions.

A division of the Department deals with Northern Ireland, United Kingdom, U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.  The European Union Division deals with Europe, and the European Neighbourhood Dividing deals with Eastern Europe including Russia.

Department and Divisions

The department consists of various divisions and units at its headquarters in Ivy House together with 73 diplomatic and consular offices abroad.  It is involved in the British-Irish intergovernmental secretariat in Belfast and the North-South Ministerial Council Joint Secretariat in Armagh. In addition to the above missions, there are 92 honorary consuls who provide assistance to Irish citizens.

The Trade Promotion Division is responsible for trade promotion strategy and coordination, the Irish Export Trade Council and has oversight of the Trade Strategy.  It liaises with other state authorities, agencies and departments and the private sector in relation to trade promotion and economic messaging.

The Development Cooperation Division deals with Irish Aid to sub-Saharan Africa and Indochina.   The Middle East Unit deals with the Middle East and North Africa, the Gulf and Iran.  The Asian and Latin American Unit deal with Asia.  except for Central Asia and Indochina.  It also deals with Oceana, Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Development Cooperation covers overseas aid program, Irish aid.  It oversees development and cooperation with multilateral partners and Irish-based organisations.  The unit has the responsibility for political relations with Africa and the implementation of the department’s Africa strategy.

The Political Division manages the political aspects of foreign policy.  It is involved in issues of human rights, international security policy, drugs and terrorism, UN issues, OSCE Council of Europe, and responsible for CFSP coordination.

The Europe Division is responsible for bilateral relations with EU countries and other European countries.    It has management responsibility for Ireland’s diplomatic offices in Europe.

The Anglo-Irish division works to promote peace and reconciliation in Ireland through the implementation of the Good Friday agreement and works with a range of partners and provides practical program support for community development and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.  It has the responsibility for all aspects of relationship with UK other than the internal EU matters, United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The EU enlargement Neighbourhood, and External Relations Divisions policies deals with EU enlargement, neighbourhood, and external relations policies

The Legal Division provides advice to the Department on matters of public, international or European Union law, human rights law and other relevant legal issues.  It is involved in and develops legal policy on international criminal justice, humanitarian law and law of state relations.

It represents Ireland in various international proceedings and forums.  It administers the Department’s treaties office and carries out functions in relation to extradition and mutual assistance.

The Corporate Division deals with human resources, management, finance, development, information technology, and accommodation for the department.

The press and information unit deals with public relations and press matters for the Department.


The Protocol Service is responsible for organisation of visits by the President, visits to Ireland by heads of state, and at the government and foreign minister level.  In accordance with the Vienna Convention, it manages requests for diplomatic clearance for incoming and outgoing state aircraft and naval visits.

The Consular service and Passport service are maintained within the department. The Consular and Passport Division is responsible e for consular and passport services for Irish citizens.

The Middle Eastern Unit and Asian and Latin American unit are regional units that have lead responsibility in relation to relations with those countries including Ireland’s missions in those areas.

The Irish Abroad and Global Irish network unit manages the government engagement with Irish abroad.  This helps Irish communities in maintaining their links with Ireland and engaging with them to further the government’s objectives internationally.


InterTradeIreland is a North-South body established under the British-Irish Act 1999.

The Agency for Personal Service Overseas (APSO) was established in 1974.  In 2004 APSO ] was merged into the Irish government’s Development Cooperation Ireland office.

Córas Tráchtála was established under the Export Promotion Act, 1959, replacing Córas Tráchtála Teoranta formed in 1951.  The Irish News Agency was established under the Irish News Agency Act, 1949, and lasted till 1957.


Important Notice! This website is provided for informational purposes only! It is a fundamental condition of the use of this website that no liability is accepted for any loss or damage caused by reason of any error, omission, or misstatement in its contents. 

Draft Articles; The articles on this website are in draft form and are subject to further review for typographical errors and, in some cases, updating and correction. It is intended to include references to the sources of materials and acknowledgements in the final version. The content of articles with [EU] in the title and some of the articles in the section on Agriculture are a reproduction of or are based on European or Irish public sector information.

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