BY EMMA CONNOLLY
A CONTROVERSIAL US Republican governor will be in Skibbereen next month as part of a trade delegation.
State of Maine’s Governor Paul LePage is leading the delegation here on September 11th, 12th, 13th when an Economic Partnership Agreement to be signed at County Hall between Co Cork and Maine at special reception.
The agreement will include facilities for ‘soft landing spaces’ at Skibbereen’s Ludgate and CIT for small businesses from Maine, and at Maine Trade Center for Irish businesses.
Governor LePage will forge links between his home place and West Cork across the tourism and heritage; IT and food sectors during his time here.
His itinerary includes visits to Skibbereen’s Heritage Centre, the Mizen Head visitor centre and the Ludgate digital hub in Skibbereen.
He will also open A Taste of West Cork’s ‘A Taste of the New World’ event on September 13th at the Celtic Ross Hotel in Rosscarbery, which features a top Maine chef and will open a fishing meeting in Bantry, where he’ll meet industry representatives.
Governor LePage, a Republican, is known for his controversial comments in the US, having previously likened the Internal Revenue Service to the Gestapo and called asylum seekers ‘the biggest problem in our State’, saying they brought in diseases.
He also threatened a Democratic lawmaker in a voicemail message, and told a town hall meeting that the vast majority of drug dealers in Maine, which has a serious heroin problem, were black or Hispanic.
The delegation members will begin their European visit in London and then travel to Dublin, before making their way to Skibbereen.
Among the delegation from the US will be Dana Eidsness, who heads up the Maine North Atlantic Development Office (MENADO), members of Maine’s departments of Marine, Agriculture, Economic and Community Development; Maine State Police; Maine’s Port Authority, and two members of Governor LePage’s security detail.