Fresh Start with Firm Friends
I travel to San Francisco today to start a week-long visit to the US showcasing the progress made by the Executive since the Fresh Start Agreement ushered in a new era of cross-party co-operation.
I will urge Irish America to initiate its own Fresh Start in transatlantic relations in order to cement the peace with jobs and investment.
Irish American support has been key to the success of the peace process but now is the perfect time to move our famed partnership up a gear.
It remains my firm view that with just 6.8 million people on the island of Ireland, but 40 million in the Irish and Scots-Irish diaspora in the U.S., the power of our global family remains our ace card.
Tomorrow morning, I will meet with Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, Co-Chair of the Irish Caucus in the Californian State Legislature, before travelling over to Berkeley, birthplace of the Free Speech Movement, to meet Mayor Tom Bates and Senator Loni Hancock.Berkeley, of course, takes its name from an Irish bishop George Berkeley, but the city’s links with Ireland were deepened even further following last year’s tragic death of five Irish students and an Irish American friend. Mayor Bates showed tremendous leadership at that time and I am looking forward to thanking him in person for all his efforts.
I am also excited at the chance to address a high-powered audience of tech entrepreneurs and investors in the Airbnb headquarters in San Francisco on Tuesday while later that day, courtesy of the hardworking folks at the NI Bureau, I will meet with the Irish American community at a reception downtown.
In both San Francisco and, later in the week, in New York, I will be meeting with comptrollers and treasurers (most notably Controller Betty Yee of California and Comptroller Tom DiNapoli of New York State, the role lost an ‘m’ on the journey west) who were staunch supporters of the MacBride Principles on Fair Employment and who now can play a key role in driving investment to the North.
Such investment is more important now than ever given the “turbulence” which the British Chancellor of the Exchequer admits lies ahead due to the threat of Brexit.
Putting together a successful US visit is the work of many hands but I want to pay a special tribute to expats Seamus McAteer, founder of Datasnap.io, Robbie Hunter, President of the Californian Construction Trades Council, and Ryushin Paul Haller of the San Francisco Zen Center for rolling out the red carpet for our delegation.
If you want to catch up with me in New York, I’ll be reading a poem at the New York Irish Art Center’s PoetryFest on Friday 4 November — but of course you could always simply join the two million people watching the marathon through the streets of New York on Sunday 6 November. Which reminds me: We’re still $500 short of our $6,000 target for Big Apple homeless charity WIN.
In other news, you can catch up on a busy week — which included a Celtic Coalition of Finance Ministers in London, a £30m First Step Stimulus, the removal of rates from amateur sports clubs, and news that €120m in European funds are to be released from next week — on my Minister of Finance blog.