Ireland’s Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation, and Science, Simon Harris, TD has announced additional funding for the Washington Ireland Program (WIP) while celebrating the program’s 30th anniversary in Washington, DC this week.

Harris, who is in Washington, DC as part of a week-long trade mission, announced an additional €50,000 in funding for the prestigious program.

“I’m delighted to be here today to celebrate the magnificent work done by the Washington Ireland Programme since its inception in 1995,” Harris said on Tuesday, February 13.

“Today I am announcing extra funding for the program. This funding will go towards driving to objectives of the program which provide young students from each corner of Ireland with huge educational opportunity in a capital steeped in political history and significance.

“In the past 30 years, the program has made a significant contribution in preparing future generations to carry out important roles in leadership and in building and maintaining good working relationships between Northern Ireland and Ireland."

The Minister continued: “Following the restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive last week, WIP’s vision for a peaceful Northern Ireland and Ireland, promoted through a network of leaders North and South who can work together to build relationships across diverse communities is more important and relevant now than ever. It is a key piece of a complex jigsaw to create and foster a positive environment to work on a cross-community basis.

“The additional funding recognises the work and educational opportunities offered by the programme and I hope it will be of benefit to many in the class of 2024.”

Today I am in Washington announcing additional funding for @WIPLive.
An incredible programme that has for 30 years built bridges, fostered leadership and strives to maintain good working relationships between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

— Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD) February 13, 2024

Speaking following the announcement, Nicola Skelly, Executive Director of the Washington Ireland Programme, said: "The Washington Ireland Program welcome the announcement from Minister Harris on the increase in support for our Emerging Leaders program as we celebrate our 30th anniversary.

"The Irish government has been the longest-standing supporter of WIP and has enabled us to develop future leaders from across the island of Ireland.

"With this support, we can continue to develop young people to become the change-makers and leaders of tomorrow, delivering on the business of peacebuilding and public service each day."

On X. formerly Twitter, WIP thanked Ireland's Ambassador to the US Geraldine Byrne Nason and the Irish Embassy for their continued support, as well as Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon for hosting a 2023 student work placement.

Thank you, Representative @marygayscanlon, for sharing your reflections on hosting a 2023 student work placement; and to Ambassador Byrne Nason (@IrelandAmbUSA) and the @IrelandEmbUSA in D.C. for your continued support. [2/2]

— Washington Ireland Program (@WIPLive) February 14, 2024

Minister Harris continues his visit in Washington, DC with stops at both Georgetown and Howard University as well as high-level meetings on Capitol Hill.

On Thursday, Harris will travel to Boston where he is due to meet with the US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland Joe Kennedy and engage with the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC), and Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Investment (MOITI). He'll also visit Northeastern University.

Harris is visiting the US just a week after Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin visited both Washington, DC and Chicago.

Next month, 11 Irish politicians will head to the US as part of the Irish Government's annual St. Patrick's Day Programme, which this year aims to promote "Ireland's Future in the World."