Question to the Minister for Social Protection (Ms. Joan Burton, TD)
To ask the Minister for Social Protection if she will report on her visit to Chicago; and if she will make a statement on the matter. – Jerry Buttimer.
For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 24th April, 2013.
The St Patrick’s Day period offers an unparalleled opportunity to showcase Ireland abroad, promote our political and economic interests, and demonstrate our strengths as a location for trade and investment.
As part of the Government’s St Patrick’s Day “Promote Ireland” programme, I travelled to Milwaukee and Chicago to meet with political, business and civic leaders and organisations and undertook a wide-ranging series of engagements.
In Milwaukee on Thursday March 14, among other engagements, I met with the Mayor of Milwaukee, Mr Tom Barrett; members of the Milwaukee Irish Fest, which promotes and celebrates Irish culture; and the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation, which educates and mentors owners of small and micro-businesses in Wisconsin, with a specific focus on women, minorities and those on low-incomes.
In the same vein, I met with BizStarts Milwaukee, an organisation which seeks to nurture and connect entrepreneurs and foster new businesses. I also met with Dr Anthony Pennington Cross, Professor of Finance at Marquette University, to discuss the issue of distressed mortgages.
In Chicago, from Friday March 15 to Monday March 18 inclusive, I met with the Mayor of Chicago, Mr Rahm Emanuel, attended the St Patrick’s Day Mass in St Patrick’s Old Cathedral, and attended the Chicago St Patrick’s Day Parade.
I also attended events hosted by the Irish American Partnership, the Celtic Legal Society of Chicago, and the Irish Fellowship Club of Chicago.
I met with groups seeking reform of the US immigration system, namely the Chicago Celts for Immigration Reform and the Chicago Irish Immigrant Support Organisation, to update them on the Government’s continuing work in this area.
I visited the Irish American Heritage Centre and Gaelic Park, and met with members of the Southside Irish community.
I met with the Educare Early Schooling Programme and After School Matters organisation to discuss childcare and child welfare issues.
I also met with members of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, and took the opportunity to brief the members on economic progress being made in Ireland, and hear from them on the US economic outlook.
Finally, I met with a number of members of the media during the course of my visit, including the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune, to discuss the Government’s progress in returning Ireland to economic stability.