The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP

Media Release

FA008 - 16 January 2006

Diplomatic Appointment: Ambassador to Ireland

I have today announced the appointment of Ms Anne Plunkett as Australia's Ambassador to Ireland with concurrent accreditation to the Holy See. Ms Plunkett will replace the Hon John Herron who has been Ambassador since January 2003. She is expected to take up her appointment in March 2006.

Ireland and Australia enjoy strong bilateral ties based on common values and shared heritage. Our long-standing and friendly relationship is reinforced by regular, high-level visits. I visited Ireland in January 2004, and in March and November 2005 Irish Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Micheal Martin visited Australia. Other significant visits from Ireland have included the January 2003 visit by Irish President Mary McAleese and the March 2000 visit by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

The Irish make up one of the largest groups of migrants to Australia, and approximately 30 percent of Australians claim Irish ancestry. This important connection between our two countries is enhanced by regular cultural exchanges and large number of tourists travelling between Australia and Ireland. The frequent movement of young Irish and Australians under working holiday arrangements also ensures ongoing close people-to-people links.

Australia and Ireland are close friends and like-minded allies on many issues of international importance, and Australia's trade and investment links with Ireland continue to grow. The Irish market is important to Australia in wine and retail banking. Ireland is now our sixth largest wine market, and there is scope to diversify our exports and further develop our rapidly growing investment links.

Ms Plunkett is an experienced staff member of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and is currently Director, Consular Operations Section, a position she has held since October 2005. Prior to this she was Director, Diplomatic and Consular Accreditation Section (2002-2005).

Ms Plunkett has served overseas as Counsellor and Deputy Head of Mission, Australian High Commission, Suva (1997-99), First Secretary, Australian High Commission, Suva (1987-89), Second Secretary, Australian High Commission, New Delhi (1980-82), Third Secretary, Australian High Commission, Dar es Salaam (1976-78) and Vice-Consul, Australian Consulate-General, Honolulu (1974-76).

Ms Plunkett has held various positions in Canberra including Director, Pacific Regional Section (2001-02), Director, New Zealand Section (2000-01), Head, Equal Employment Opportunity Unit (1995-96), Executive Officer, Central and Southern Africa Section (1995), Executive Officer, Asian Projects Section (1993-95), and Executive Officer, Diplomatic Security Section (1984.)

Ms Plunkett was born in Armidale in 1952. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) from the University of New England. She is married and has two sons and a daughter.

Media Inquiries: Mr Downer's office 02 6277 7500 - Departmental Media Liaison 02 6261 1555

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