Development & Alumni Relations Office 



QUEEN’S GRADUATE DR ANN DERWIN IS TO BE IRELAND’S NEXT AMBASSADOR TO CHINAGreat Wall of China and (inset) Dr Ann Derwin and Irish Embassy logo

12 July 2020

As reported by Simon Carswell in the Irish Times last month (30.06.20), the next Irish Ambassador to China is to be Queen’s University DGov graduate Dr Ann Derwin.  

Once she takes up post in the Irish Embassy in Beijing, Dr Derwin will play a leading role in developing and sustaining political, cultural and economic relations between Ireland and China.

Originally from County Sligo, Dr Derwin has a Bachelor’s degree in Veterinary Medicine (1986) from University College Dublin and a Master’s in Agricultural Economics from Imperial College London, in addition to her PhD in Governance (2010) from Queen’s.

Currently Assistant Secretary General at the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Dr Derwin will be Ireland’s 10th Ambassador in Beijing since diplomatic relations were opened up with China in 1979. She moved to DFA in 2017 after almost eight years in Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, where she was Chief Economist (2010-15) and then Assistant Secretary Corporate Affairs (2015-17).

As Assistant Secretary in the Global Irish Division Dr Derwin has responsibility for:

  • Ireland’s Passport Service, including Passport Offices in Dublin, Balbriggan and Cork
  • The Consular Directorate, incorporating the Consular Assistance Section, the Crisis Management Unit and the Services Section,
  • The Irish Abroad Unit, which is in charge of the Irish Government's Emigrant Support Programme through the advancement of its Diaspora policy.

She also leads gender equality and diversity initiatives in the Department.

After graduating from UCD, Dr Derwin worked in mixed veterinary practice in Wales before setting up her own small animal practice in County Sligo. She joined the Irish Department of Agriculture as a veterinary inspector in 1992, and worked in County Donegal for six years.

From 1998-2002 she served as First Secretary (Agriculture and Fisheries) in the Irish Embassy in Madrid. She became Superintending Veterinary Inspector in the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in 2004, a post she held until 2010 when she became Chief Economist.

Though still to present her credentials to President Xi Jinping, it is expected that Dr Derwin will be officially confirmed as Irish Ambassador to China in the coming weeks when she will succeed Eoin O'Leary who took up the post in September 2017

An important element of the role will be in fostering and supporting trade between Ireland and China. From March until the end of June 2020, 259 round-trip flights between Dublin and China delivered 4,000 tonnes – over 86 million pieces – of PPE (personal protective equipment) to Ireland as part of Ireland’s fight against Covid-19. 

Bilateral trade between Ireland and China is currently worth over €8 billion each year. Ireland’s priority sectors for trade with China include agriculture, education, financial services, culture, and tourism.

Diplomatic relations between the two countries were established on 22 June 1979. Ireland opened an Embassy in Beijing in 1980 and moved to its current premises in the Jianguomen diplomatic district the following year.  

Seeking to enhance the political and economic relationship between Ireland and China, the Embassy strives to deliver economic growth and jobs, promote Ireland and the Irish Arts, and maintain and enhance links with the diaspora. An estimated 6,000 Irish people live in China, including around 4,000 in Hong Kong.

In addition to the Embassy in Beijing, which is also accredited to provide consular services for Irish interests in Mongolia, there are Consulates in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Dr Ann Derwin was the winner of the University College Dublin (UCD) Alumni Award in Agriculture and Veterinary Science in 2018.

For general enquiries about this story, or to submit a graduate news item, please contact Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office, Queen’s University Belfast.

Photo acknowledgements: (Main) Dr Ann Derwin (Twitter); Embassy of Ireland (Twitter); Great Wall of China (Peggy and Marco Lachmann-Anke  from Pixabay. (Headline) Irish Embassy, Beijing (Wikipedia) 

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