Minister Simon Harris Bolsters Washington Ireland Programme with Increased Funding


Minister for Further and Higher Education, Simon Harris, has unveiled ambitious plans to significantly increase funding for the Washington Ireland Program as it celebrates its remarkable 30th anniversary milestone.

This announcement comes as Minister Harris prepares for a diplomatic visit to the American capital and Boston, where he aims to not only strengthen ties between the United States and Ireland but also to promote peace and prosperity in Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Minister Simon Harris Bolsters Washington Ireland Programme with Increased Funding
(Photo : UNSPLASH / Tommy Bond)
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Nurturing Future Leaders

The Washington Ireland Programme, established three decades ago, stands as a beacon of hope, dedicated to supporting leaders committed to shaping a future of peace and prosperity for Northern Ireland and Ireland. Minister Harris's decision to bolster funding underscores Ireland's unwavering dedication to nurturing these future leaders and advancing the programme's noble mission.

During his visit, Minister Harris will engage in substantive discussions with senior academics from eight publicly-funded Irish higher education institutions, along with visits to prestigious universities such as Georgetown and Howard in Washington. These engagements are aimed at fostering robust dialogues on deepening educational collaboration between the United States and Ireland. The objective is to explore avenues for enhancing partnerships, academic exchange opportunities, and fostering mutual growth.

Furthermore, Minister Harris intends to facilitate discussions on the role of education in fostering peace and prosperity, emphasizing the importance of cross-cultural understanding and cooperation in resolving conflicts and driving socio-economic development.

Strategic Meetings with US Education Officials

A pivotal component of Minister Harris's itinerary includes a strategic meeting with James Kvaai, the under-secretary at the US Department of Education, and other influential stakeholders in the fields of science and technology education. These discussions underscore Ireland's firm commitment to harnessing innovation and talent through international collaboration, fostering mutual growth and development.

In addition to discussing educational collaboration, Minister Harris seeks to explore opportunities for joint research initiatives, student exchanges, and academic partnerships that will benefit both nations. By fostering closer ties between educational institutions, Minister Harris aims to create a conducive environment for knowledge-sharing and innovation, driving progress in various fields and contributing to global development efforts.

Increased Funding for George Mitchell Scholarship

Following the recent restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive, Minister Harris announced an additional €450,000 in funding for the George Mitchell Scholarship. This substantial investment reaffirms Ireland's steadfast commitment to supporting educational opportunities and fostering leadership development in Northern Ireland, contributing to the region's long-term peace and prosperity.

Minister Harris expressed his optimism regarding these initiatives, stating, "I am genuinely delighted to confirm the decision to announce the first of our planned six talent-and-innovation attaches will be based in the United States. I hope it sends a resounding message of Ireland's intention to embed and expand the relationships we have here in America for the benefit of both our great countries, our economies, and societies."

As Minister Harris embarks on this pivotal diplomatic mission, his unwavering focus on strengthening educational collaboration and promoting innovation underscores Ireland's steadfast commitment to fostering mutually beneficial partnerships with the United States. Through strategic investments and collaborative efforts, Ireland aims to cultivate talent, foster leadership, and fortify ties that will shape the future of both nations for generations to come.

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