US foreign direct investment in Ireland has transformed the economy across the island, feeding into our burgeoning innovative industries and making this country the envy of our European partners.
Traditionally the northwest of Ireland — Donegal and Derry — haven’t done as well as other regions from foreign direct investment but that is starting to change with the opening of the Northwest Science Park, the founding of the M2D2 incubator in Letterkenny and Derry by University of Massachusetts Lowell, and, latterly, the investments by US firms OSV of Texas and Metaverse Mod Squad of California in Derry.
But the work is only beginning as will be clear when all those pioneers of economic resurgence will come together in Boston this week for the seventh annual Golden Bridges conference. I’m proud to be asked to host proceedings in the Seaport Hotel in Boston in the illustrious company of the mayors of Boston, Derry and Donegal as well as leading Boston business champions, attorney Maureen Bennett of Jones Day, bio-entrepreneur Susan Whoriskey and Elizabeth Steele of MassBio.
Rep Dan Ryan is inviting fellow-politicians and Irish American leaders of Massachusetts to welcome the many visitors coming into Boston for Golden Bridges at a special reception in the State House at 2pm on Wednesday, a fitting way to start an annual engagement which has forged new transatlantic partnerships — most notably the BelPot, a tournament for ice hockey college teams from Massachusetts in Belfast, which was born at Golden Bridges 2014.
However, clinching new investments is the pinnacle of our transatlantic efforts which is why I am delighted that the founders of OSV and Metaverse will be recognised at the annual Golden Bridges Awards Luncheon on 22 October. See you there.
On Monday past in Berlin, I was thrilled to be presented with the NI Tolerantia Laureate by John O’Doherty of Belfast’s Rainbow Project — alongside laureates of Poland, Germany and France. The award is the initiative of Maneo, a Berlin-based group opposing homophobia and campaigning for equal treatment for the LBGT community. You can see my comments at the awards presentation here. It’s my intention to use the platform the Laureate gives me to continue to celebrate difference and to give thanks for the mammoth contribution to the changing Belfast by the LGBT community. Find out more here.
From cabaret in Berlin to a showstopper in Belfast: the appearance of First Minister Peter Robinson at the Stormont Finance Committee into the NAMA-Cerberus scandal. You can see my exchange with the First Minister here. The investigation has thrown a little more light on the biggest-ever property deal in Ireland — many aspects of which remain in the shadows. I am more confident than ever, however, that the full truth of this corrupt deal will be laid bare in the time ahead.