Minister declares Atlanta is gaining notoriety in Ireland at St. Patrick's Day Breakfast - Global Atlanta.

Minister declares Atlanta is gaining notoriety in Ireland at St. Patrick's Day Breakfast - Global Atlanta.

If Atlanta is being considered as a place to visit for government officials, the Irish representatives likely want to be at the top of the list.

Last year, the city had the privilege of welcoming three high-ranking officials from Ireland, who are part of the cabinet. Also, the annual St. Patrick’s Day breakfasts organized by the Irish Chamber of Atlanta have been graced by two current prime ministers and one minister in charge of sports and tourism, who is now the current leader: Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. This has been quite an extraordinary experience for the city.

The esteemed guest of this year, Darragh O’Brien, who is the Irish minister of housing, local government, and heritage, mentioned that numerous individuals are interested in exploring the relationship between Irish people and the Southeast region of the United States.

During the 2023 breakfast held by the chamber on Tuesday, Mr. O'Brien mentioned that there was a specific request to visit Atlanta.

One reason why people feel so welcomed in Atlanta is because of its friendly reputation. Another reason is the strong focus on business that Ireland has established in the area, particularly since the opening of the Irish Consulate General in 2010.

Caoimhe Ni Chonchuir, the Irish consul general, expressed her excitement about the strong sense of progress in the relationship between Ireland and Georgia. She made her remarks while welcoming the minister at the Capital City Club and thanking the chamber for the opportunity.

During his visit, which included participation in parades in Atlanta and Savannah, Mr. O'Brien commended the team at the consulate and emphasized the wide range of connections being celebrated. These connections are not limited to longstanding familial bonds, but also include modern-day technological partnerships. Mr. O'Brien expressed his appreciation for these diverse relationships.

The occurrences such as the ones during St. Patrick's week happening in Atlanta are able to strengthen connections, which could potentially result in more profound business ties, according to his statement.

The majority of the time, you conduct business with individuals whom you are familiar with and have confidence in, and this is a viewpoint that I believe we have in common," stated Mr. O'Brien.

The connection between Georgia and Ireland is firm, as Irish trade and investment is responsible for providing employment to around 8,000 workers in the state. This is largely due to the contributions of employers such as CRH Americas, Kerry Group, and various technology companies. In turn, Atlanta is home to many major corporations, including Coca-Cola Co., Equifax, UPS, ClickDimensions, Elavon, and Global Payments. Furthermore, Ireland hosts practically all of the biggest tech and social media companies, with over 900 American firms operating there.

Over 1,700 international businesses have established themselves in Ireland and provided jobs to 301,000 individuals last year. This represents a significant increase from 10 years ago when only 170,000 people were employed due to Georgia's population being approximately twice the size of Ireland's (which is around 5 million individuals). Mark Leonard (a financial services vice president working at the Atlanta office of IDA Ireland) divulged that 30 firms in Georgia offer employment to 3,000 Irish residents.

According to Mr. O’Brien's depiction of the Irish economy, it is progressing well ahead of other European countries. The demand for skilled workers has increased and is becoming a challenge for Georgia businesses, a problem they are familiar with.

Korie Jackson, the Vice President of Fineos Corp., mentioned that their company hasn't experienced many obstacles to their expansion in the metropolitan area of Atlanta. Fineos Corp develops software for the insurance claims processing industry.

After establishing its "capability centre" in Atlanta at the Midtown Coda building of Georgia Tech in 2018, the corporation has experienced an increase in its workforce from two to 250 local workers. In the process, the business has acquired some Irish expertise.

When Mr. Jackson had his initial Fineos interview, he wore a suit. As he was talking to a supervisor, he saw that the supervisor was wearing jeans and took a break halfway through the meeting to smoke. This action was the first signal that working for a European company would be an unusual and unique experience.

"It really made me realize that managing a business is not just about bureaucracy; it's about creating a culture. I consistently emphasize this aspect to everyone I introduce to the company, and it has been instrumental in our progress," he remarked.

This doesn't mean that the company, which has been in business for three decades, lacks aspirations. It managed to secure $300 million on the Australian Stock Exchange in 2019 and has completed two takeovers since then.

Biden's visit emphasizes the importance of bilateral relations.

The minister additionally highlighted the strong and friendly relationships between the two countries, which will be emphasized during President Joe Biden's forthcoming trip to both Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The President who is of Irish-American descent was requested to honor the 25th anniversary of when the Good Friday Agreement was signed. This agreement put an end to 40 years of conflict that was caused by differing religious beliefs and resulted in over 3,500 deaths.

Mr. O'Brien declared that the deal could not have been as prosperous, and may not have even occurred, if it weren't for the assistance of our American companions and associates.

The boundary separating Northern Ireland from Ireland has become a focal point of conflict due to Brexit. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom while Ireland is a member of the European Union. Since the UK's exit from the EU, talks have been held about finding a solution to prevent a physical border from being erected. This is necessary to uphold the unrestricted movement of both people and product that has been vital in maintaining peace on the island.

A meeting took place on February 27th between the UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, and the President of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. During the meeting, Sunak brought forward a potential plan called the Windsor Framework, which would tackle a particular problem if it gained approval.

As a representative of the Irish government, Mr. O'Brien expressed his enthusiastic support for the agreement. He believes that it offers a viable solution to the complications that have arisen since Brexit, allowing for normalized trade and the reinstatement of political institutions in Northern Ireland that were disrupted due to recent political instability. He emphasized the importance of Northern Ireland's citizens having a government that they have selected.

Ms. Ni Chonchuir mentioned that local politicians have also been taking notice. She stated that David Ralston, who was previously the speaker of the Georgia House, traveled to Belfast and Dublin last year with Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan.

Mr. Dugan put forth a proposal in the beginning of February that acknowledged the importance of the Good Friday Agreement (See below for more information).

On Wednesday, Minister O’Brien addressed both chambers of the Georgia legislature and also paid a visit to BelterTech, which is a company based in Hapeville that is owned by an Irish citizen and specializes in producing eco-friendly construction materials.

Georgia Tech also revealed that they will be returning to Ireland for their football season opener against Florida State in August 2024, which was announced on the same day as the Irish Chamber breakfast event. This game is similar to the one they played against Boston College in 2016, which saw a significant number of business delegates from Atlanta traveling to Dublin.

Discover additional information regarding the Irish Chamber of Atlanta by clicking on this link, and explore their involvement in a collaborative networking gathering between multiple European chambers scheduled for April 20th.

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