Doubling down on Ireland
The US Ambassador to Ireland Kevin O’Malley talked about major US businesses “doubling down” on Ireland during the recession, increasing their investments at an unprecedented level to create sustainable jobs in blue-chip companies.
He was speaking at the ‘St Patrick’s Month’ launch of the impressive American Ireland Chamber of Commerce report on ‘The Irish-US Economic Relationship’ in the Irish Consulate in New York on Friday. Among the startling facts in the report is the revelation that in 2013 the South of Ireland was the number one location in the world for US investment.
To date, there is no report which brings together the figures for US investment across the island but they are certain to be even more inspiring as is the fact that investment is now a two-way street with Irish companies being the seventh largest investor in America.
My impression as I met with US companies, political leaders and Irish American activists during this brief four-day visit to New York is that America is equally ready to double down on its engagement with Belfast.
In the New York state capital Albany, I had the honour of being introduced on the floor of the Assembly chamber before meeting with politicians to discuss what would be the most substantial visit ever of New York legislators to Ireland to coincide with the Belfast Homecoming in October. From such visits will grow links of community, culture and commerce which can drive Belfast’s rise and strengthen our bond with the diaspora.
I was also privileged to meet the Honorary Chairs of the sixth annual New York-New Belfast conference which takes place at Fordham University in New York on 4-5 June to be brought up to date with plans for an exciting showcase of the very best of both cities.
I arrive home Monday so that I can join over 1300 others start the Belfast St Patrick’s Day celebrations with the SPAR Craic 10K run which sets off from City Hall at 9am. I have no doubt the inaugural SPAR Craic 10K — which will travel through the Gaeltacht and Cathedral Quarters before ending at the Titanic Slipway — will be the perfect tonic for Belfast as we push through another period of political crisis. Our goal at the SPAR Craic 10K is to raise £10k for the NI Hospice, I am well on my way to raising the first thousand pounds but donations are still needed at my Just Giving page.
Finally, many thanks to Oscar-winner Oorlagh George for her generous endorsement of my electoral efforts this May. I hope to live up to her billing!
Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh uilig.