Taoiseach visits Cardiff to advance the relationship between Ireland and Wales, and to build on trade opportunities between the two countries

19th November, 2021

Taoiseach Wales Trade Mission
Taoiseach Micheál Martin and First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford.

Visit to showcase Irish and Welsh business collaboration

Today Taoiseach, Michéal Martin T.D., participates in a business programme in Cardiff, Wales, organised by Enterprise Ireland. The programme will also be attended by First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford. The programme follows the latest meeting of the British-Irish Council. The aim of the programme is to boost trade opportunities between Ireland and Wales. During the visit, the Taoiseach will meet with Irish companies delivering innovation to Welsh businesses, the Welsh government and local authorities. The visit will also focus on strengthening relationships between the Irish and Welsh governments and building on the recent Ireland-Wales Forum which took place in Cardiff in October, with a view to building stronger cooperation between Ireland and Wales.

Today’s visit showcases Irish businesses working with partners in Wales, to deliver innovative solutions to Welsh businesses, government and local authorities, particularly in the area of sustainability supporting Wales to deliver on its plans for a zero-carbon economy.

Leading the trade visit, Taoiseach Michéal Martin said, “Ireland’s relationship with Wales is a very positive one, and I’m delighted to visit Wales today to support the excellent connections and trade initiatives that are in place between our two nations. I am eager to gain insights into the opportunities that the Welsh market presents to Ireland and Irish businesses. With so many companies in recovery mode, it’s important to highlight that there are trade and growth opportunities in markets such as Wales, which are very open to working with the likes of Irish companies that are providing high-tech, innovative, and sustainable products and solutions.

“The UK still represents Ireland’s largest export market by value, representing €7.5bn or 29% of Irish exports in 2020. With devolution, the Welsh government has been empowered to focus on the opportunity to re-build its economy and develop a modern and productive infrastructure. Its Programme for Government includes plans to launch a new 10-year Wales Infrastructure Investment Plan for a zero-carbon economy, and to deliver a digital strategy for Wales to upgrade their digital and communications infrastructure. Given this focus, I believe there is no reason why Ireland cannot grow its exports to Wales, while in the process helping Wales to achieve its targets for sustainable growth.”

First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford said, “Enhancing our public transport system is a vital part of our work to cut emissions and reduce our impact on climate change. The Welsh government’s target is for 45% of journeys to be made by sustainable modes by 2040. It is great to see that technology and data is being used to develop efficiencies and growth in this sector.”

Leading the visit for Enterprise Ireland, Kevin Sherry, Executive Director at Enterprise Ireland said, “Given the close proximity of Wales and its devolved powers, there are significant opportunities for Enterprise Ireland client companies to build on mutually beneficial relationships with business partners in Wales. Overall, Enterprise Ireland client companies in the UK have supported exports of over €7.5bn, employing 110,000 people in the market. We continue to work with Irish companies to secure opportunities and deliver innovative customer solutions, particularly in areas of public spending at central and local government, their agencies, and also in healthcare.

“The recent Ireland-Wales Forum has highlighted the genuine and strong desire of the Welsh Government and authorities to engage with Ireland, and this aligns with our strategy to seek diversified opportunities for Irish companies across the UK. Today’s visit will be an important showcase of Irish business capabilities, particularly in the areas of infrastructure and sustainability, while also demonstrating Enterprise Ireland’s commitment to the market.”

Enterprise Ireland client companies particularly active in Wales on this agenda include:

  • CitySwift: CitySwift, the Galway-based leader in data and machine learning for the public transport sector, has announced a partnership with Transport for Wales on a pilot programme to optimise Welsh public transport services. The programme aims to deliver efficiencies and improve service levels across the country’s bus network. This will help encourage a modal shift from private cars to sustainable public transport – key to tackling climate change and reducing congestion and emissions in towns and cities.

    Through CitySwift’s platform, Welsh bus operators will be able to make more informed data-driven decisions and understand new travel patterns, which will enable them to improve journey times, reliability and enhance the on-board experience for passengers. This is CitySwift’s first countrywide project with a public transport authority. The partnership will demonstrate CitySwift’s ability to deliver effective strategies for transport authorities – as it has done with major transport operators in the UK, including National Express and Go-Ahead Group.

    James Price, Transport for Wales CEO said, “Transport for Wales is transforming transport throughout Wales and the borders with an investment programme into all forms of public transport. Our partnership with CitySwift will allow Welsh bus operators to use modern AI technology to gather data, understand new travel patterns, and make more informed data-driven decisions. This pilot scheme will help us improve bus services for the people of Wales and will assist us in encouraging people to make that modal shift from using private cars to sustainable public transport which is key to tackling climate change.”

    Brian O’Rourke, CEO CitySwift said, “Transport for Wales is taking a positive step by embracing data and AI in a smart, innovative way to improve bus services. As new mobility patterns emerge, due to the pandemic and the need to reduce carbon emissions, there is a lot to learn from big data about changing trends and how best to plan and shape bus services for the future. Our data-driven planning technology will help ensure that Transport for Wales can provide sustainable travel and deliver the highest-quality, safe and reliable journeys for the Welsh public. We hope other public transport authorities follow suit.”
  • Combilift: Combilift is the world’s fastest growing forklift manufacturer and its range of handling solutions includes multidirectional forklifts for long-load handling, Aisle Master articulated trucks for narrow aisle warehouse operation, pedestrian stacker trucks as well as straddle carriers for handling containers and extreme loads. Innovation, flexibility and service is the ethos on which Combilift’s success is built - it exports to more than 85 countries and has more than 60,000 trucks in use worldwide.

    Commenting on the company’s presence in Wales, Combilift CEO and Co-founder Martin McVicar said, “Combilift has a strong customer base in Wales where the manufacturing and warehousing sectors are an ideal fit with the products that we offer, all designed for safe, space saving and productive handling. Panasonic for example operates a large fleet of our electric Aisle Master articulated trucks at its Cardiff facility, allowing it to stock substantially more volume in a reduced footprint. This has enabled considerable cost-savings whilst contributing to more sustainable operation.”

  • EVM: EVM Ltd is based in Co. Westmeath and West Sussex in the UK. They have been working with Transport for Wales, supplying low emission accessible minibus to councils throughout Wales for their ‘Fflecsi’ demand responsive transport solution. This is a new and innovative solution to providing transport, where the customer needs it, driven by low emission small form factor vehicles. The visit to Wales by the Taoiseach marks an exciting time for EVM and Transport for Wales, with the delivery of their first 100% zero emission minibus to the Fflecsi DRT. The battery electric vehicle (BEV) will deliver a truly efficient and targeted transport service to customers throughout Wales.

    Danny Mcgee, EVM Founder and Managing Director said, “EVM has focussed development on low and zero emission small form factor passenger transport solutions to meet the growing demand of groups like Transport for Wales. Working in partnership with Welsh councils has enabled us to become a key part of the growth of their demand responsive projects, and now we are very excited to be introducing the first 100% electric minibus into operation.”

  • Romaquip: Romaquip are the market leaders in the UK for their kerb- sort recycling vehicles and their newly launched RQ-E electric range. Since launching the first Romaquip fleet in Conwy in 2011 they have gone on to produce well over 950 vehicles and have since 2011 been the vehicle of choice for Welsh authorities, now boasting over 45 local authority contracts and dealing with all the leading private waste management companies across the UK. Romaquip started out as a winter maintenance equipment provider and are famous for their quality, design and safety features in this sector. They work closely with Welsh customers to achieve continuing improvements and innovation, as the recently awarded SWTRA contracts demonstrate.

    Commenting on their partnership with Romaquip, Andrew Wilkinson, Head of Neighbourhood Services at Conwy County Borough Council said, “We have worked in partnership with Romaquip and operated their Kerb-Sort vehicles since 2011. From the inception of our council’s ‘Recycle More’ collection service, it has proved to be a very successful collaboration. The design and performance of the Romaquip Kerb-Sort vehicle has contributed to our ongoing and continues success and I would have no hesitation in recommending the company and their vehicles to other local authorities.”

Other Enterprise Ireland clients that are working with partners in Wales to deliver products and services across sectors include:

  • ICON: ICON plc (NASDAQ: ICLR), a Dublin-based world leader in healthcare intelligence and clinical research, now employs more than 38,000 people globally and 340 team members in its Swansea office. Having steadily grown its presence in the Welsh city since 1996, ICON’s Swansea office has been the recipient of two Welsh government grants to support the generation and retention of 180+ high quality graduate jobs in clinical research and technology. In addition, ICON is part of the Swansea Bay Sustainable Travel Forum and has recently refurbished the Swansea office, with sustainability at the forefront of its design and decor. ICON remains committed to the sustainable and long-term growth of the life sciences industry in Swansea, and more broadly, within Wales and the UK.
  • Nolan Transport: Nolan Transport has been very positive about its future growth in Wales and Great Britain, despite the challenges of Brexit. The company has invested approximately £10m to date ensuring that its Great Britain operation is strong moving forward. Over the next five years, Nolan Transport plans to grow its operations four- to five-fold over and above the growth they have achieved to date to support manufacturers in Wales and wider Great Britain. The company has proudly achieved much over the past five years in its Great Britain business, generating new sustainable jobs and supporting the economy in the market. They are ambitious to establish a GB headquarters which replicates the current Group headquarters in Wexford, Ireland, where group revenue and operations are progressively in a significant growth phase.
  • Roadbridge: Roadbridge is a global multi-disciplined civil engineering company with over fifty years’ experience delivering complex projects to exceptional safety, quality and environmental standards for its clients and the global community. In Wales, Roadbridge is a key delivery partner in the international ‘Future Valleys’ consortium that was successfully awarded the contract to deliver the Heads of Valley dualling of the A465 by the Welsh government. As part of the consortium, Roadbridge will deliver the earthworks and drainage packages of the works. In 2014 Roadbridge successfully delivered the A477 St Clears to Red Roses road improvement scheme on behalf of the Welsh government.


Notes to Editor

This trade visit and associated events has been organised in line with Irish and local market Covid-19 regulations and travel requirements.

For further information, please contact:

Theresa Quinn

Marketing Communications

Enterprise Ireland

Theresa Quinn

087 963 4300