I travelled to Noordwijk in the Netherlands earlier this week to visit the European Space Agency technology & research centre. It was part of a trade mission with Minister Halligan and Enterprise Ireland and our group included over a dozen Irish companies who are heavily invested in space technology. Ireland was a founder member of ESA and has contributed engineering, scientific and technology projects to many space missions. Space is the ultimate test-bed and so many of these firms go onto “spin-out” success when commercial applications inevitably follow. There are over 60 Irish companies involved in the space industry with 2,500 high skilled and high paid jobs in this sector within Ireland today. It is somewhat unusual for an opposition spokesperson to be included on a trade mission and I appreciated Minister Halligan’s invite on this trip. It demonstrates to our international partners cross-party support for the continued development of this industry.