Brief Overview of Bilateral Relations
1. Key conventions
Visa-free Travel Agreement (1991), Agreement on Road Freight and Carriage Transport (1993), Agreement on Air Transport (1993), Double Taxation Treaty (1995), Agreement on Combating Organised Crime (1999).
Irish-Hungarian relations trace back to the Middle Ages: in the 14th and 15th centuries, two Hungarian pilgrims visited the famous Sanctuary of St Patrick in Lough Derg and their unfold experience contributed to a deeper insight into the Irish life of that time. In the mid-17th century the Bishop of Clonfert, Walter Lynch found asylum from the persecution of the English troops in the Hungarian city of Győr. Lynch saved a picture of the Virgin Mary and the Child of Galway and brought that along his journey to Győr. After Bishop Lynch’s death, the picture was placed upon a pillar within the Cathedral of Győr. Irish politician and writer Arthur Griffith published in 1904 his book “The Resurrection of Hungary: A Parallel for Ireland” on the 1848 Hungarian Revolution, in which he drew up his ideas for Irish independence under a dual monarchy, setting as an example to his Irish contemporaries the Hungarian self-determination for freedom. In our recent history, Ireland generously welcomed hundreds of Hungarian refugees after the fall of the 1956 revolution and freedom fight against the Communist dictatorship.
3. Today’s bilateral relations
Official diplomatic relations between Ireland and Hungary were established in 1976. Following the democratic transition of 1989 in Hungary, the Embassy of Hungary in Dublin was opened in 1991 and the Embassy of Ireland in Budapest in 1996. It has a symbolic value that Ireland held the presidency of the European Council in 2004 when Hungary joined the European Union.
In the past decades, ‘everyday diplomacy’ has been expanding, bringing together the citizens of our countries. The establishment of the direct airline connection between Hungary and Ireland gave a great boost to the bilateral tourism and trade. Hungary became popular tourist destination reaching 90,000 Irish guests’ nights in Hungary in 2017. Following Hungary’s accession to the EU Ireland opened its labour market to Hungarians; in these days, approximately 10-12 thousand Hungarians live and work in Ireland.
Hungarian export to Ireland amounted to € 159,6 million, while our import reached € 484 million in 2017. Hungary is a popular destination for Irish investors, for example Pannonia Ethanol in Dunaújváros, Kingspan in Újhartyán, and McHale (agricultural machinery) in Szolnok. CRH became one of the leading construction material producers in Hungary.
4. High-level visits
Two Hungarian presidents - Árpád Göncz in 1995 and Ferenc Mádl in 2005 - paid official state visits to Ireland. Irish president Mary McAleese visited Hungary in April 2000, attending the 50th anniversary commemorations of the 1956 Revolution on 23rd October 2006.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán visited Dublin on 2nd June 2011, where he conducted talks with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and met the representatives of Irish companies with investments in Hungary. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar met PM Orbán in Budapest on 4 January 2018.
Heads of governments and ministers hold regular talks during EU meetings. There is also a growing tendency in the field of the Hungarian-Irish parliamentary consultations; the speakers of both parliaments and the representatives of the select committees have frequent consultations well demonstrated by the last official visit of the Speaker of the Hungarian Parliament to Ireland on 7-10 November 2017.