A NEW body aimed at bringing together businesses in Scotland and Ireland is set to launch today.

Founders of the Irish Business Network Scotland said it is being set up at a time when trade between the two countries has reached unprecedented levels.

The network expects to draw members from the established Irish business community in Scotland as well as firms in both countries looking to expand.

Allied Irish Bank, which has branches in Edinburgh and Glasgow, is one of the founding members and the initiative is also being supported by the two governments.

Scottish external affairs minister Fiona Hyslop will speak at the launch at Edinburgh Castle, along with Paschal Donohoe, Irish mini-ster for public expenditure and reform.

Hyslop said: “Scottish exports to Ireland are worth around £1.125billion while the turnover of Irish businesses here in Scotland is more than £2.5 billion, supporting nearly 6,000 jobs.

“The Scottish government is pleased to welcome the development of the Irish Business Network Scotland to provide a way for businesses wanting to expand to tap into companies with experience already located in Scotland.”

Donohoe said: “The establishment of the network is further evidence of the already close co-operation that exists between Ireland and Scotland at so many levels.”

Founding chairman Colm Moloney said the network was aimed at encouraging businesses and entrepreneurs in Scotland and Ireland to explore the opportunities across the water.”

Moloney added: “We want to create a network that shares ideas and information, creates opportunities for partnerships and collaborations, and taps into the experience of those people and companies that have made a success of broadening their horizons across the Irish Sea.”