Poland to set up consulate in Belfast
IT is good news for Polish people living in Northern Ireland after it was announced that a full diplomatic Polish consulate will open in Belfast later this year.
The move means Poland will be the first European country to have a full diplomatic presence in Northern Ireland.
There are more than 30,000 Polish nationals living in the north, but consular services at present are only provided by monthly consular visits to Belfast.
But now a Polish Consulate Agency office will be established in the city.
This move will also make Poland only the third country in the world with a consulate in Northern Ireland after the United States and China.
Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Witold Waszczykowski said the announcement was "an acknowledgement of the close historic ties between Poland and the United Kingdom".
It is hoped the establishment of the consulate agency will help serve the large and growing Polish population in Northern Ireland requiring ongoing consular services, with appointments to access the monthly service usually over-subscribed.
Honorary Northern Ireland Consul for the Republic of Poland Jerome Mullen described it as "a momentous decision".
Mr Mullen also confirmed the Polish government had asked him to remain in his present role as honorary consul, which he said he was very pleased to accept. He has held the post since 2008.
He was last month awarded Poland's highest civilian honour, the Gold Cross of Merit, for his outstanding work with the Polish community in Northern Ireland over the past eight years, and is the only Irishman to have been so honoured.