New Irish Ambassador aims to boost already strong links with Thailand
When His Excellency Joseph Anthony (Tony) Cotter learned he had been picked as Ireland’s Ambassador in Thailand, he and wife Marie saw it as a great opportunity to live and represent Ireland in a country they had vacationed in many times. The Cotters arrived in Bangkok last August and already feel very much at home.
We have been made to feel very welcome in Thailand by many new Thai friends, the Irish community here, and also friends and colleagues in the diplomatic community,” said the ambassador. “We are very much looking forward to the next few years of living in Thailand. We have great respect for the Thai people and everything Thai and hope that we can contribute positively to the further strengthening of the already longstanding positive and very friendly relations between our two countries.”
Our interview with Mr Cotter took place with Marie sitting beside him at their residence, just a two-minute walk from the Irish embassy on Wireless Road.
“I am originally from County Cork in Ireland. Marie hails from Limerick, the home of Irish rugby. Marie and I have been together for over 33 years. I have learned that the easiest way for a happy married life is to say yes…and to say it quickly! We have one daughter, Aisling. She got married in beautiful Ravello in May this year. She and husband Dave are currently living in Sydney, but are moving to Singapore in January. This is good news as it gets them closer to us here in Bangkok.
“It is always a great honour to be asked to represent your country as ambassador, and I am particularly pleased to have been nominated by my government to serve as ambassador to Thailand (also accredited to Myanmar). Thailand is a country that Marie and I have gotten to know very well over the past 15 years or so.
“I served most recently as Ireland’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia (also accredited to Bahrain, Iraq, Oman and Yemen) and before that was ambassador to Zambia (also accredited to Namibia).”
Ireland getting high marks
“Ireland is in my opinion probably the best country in the world, but don’t just take my word for it. There is a lot of evidence to back me up. Ireland is consistently ranked as one of the top five tourism destinations in the world. With a population of 4.7 million and a median age of just 37.2 years, we are a young country. And our population is expanding, unlike other countries in Europe. We expect to have another million people living in Ireland by 2040.
“We had a challenging time during the last global economic downturn. However, we have now turned the corner and thankfully Ireland’s economy continues to grow strongly. It has in fact been the fastest growing economy in the EU over the past two years, with unemployment down from a peak of 16% in early 2012 to 5.8% as of May 2018. There are now almost 2.3 million people at work, more than at any point in our history. The GDP rose by 5.1% in 2016 and by almost 7.8% in 2017. The Department of Finance is forecasting real GDP growth of 5.6% in 2018 and 4% in 2019.
“EU membership has been central to the success of our open, competitive economy. It has been the cornerstone of social progress in Ireland over the last generation. Public support for EU membership is very high; 92% of the population is in the ‘remain’ camp. Ireland will therefore continue to be a core member of the EU single market and the Eurozone.
“Any visitor to Ireland is guaranteed to receive a genuinely warm welcome, as promised by the slogan ‘Céad Míle Fáilte’ or One Hundred Thousand Welcomes. There is so much for tourists to do and see. One of the most exciting developments of recent years is the Wild Atlantic Way – a 2,500 kilometer coastal drive along Ireland’s western seaboard that offers visitors an opportunity to connect with friendly, welcoming people in towns and villages along the way. It’s a great way to experience our heritage and culture, and also enjoy our great locally-grown, fresh food and freshly caught seafood.
“The recently released movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens features stunning scenes shot on Skellig Michael off the County Kerry coast. Much of Game of Thrones is filmed in Northern Ireland.
“You can also go to Ireland’s Ancient East to experience 5,000 years of Irish and European history. Here there are so many places filled with legend and lore – from castles, monasteries and round towers, to emigrant ships – all in an area brimming with culture, festivals and fun.”