By Conor Power
CORK County Council will spend over €33,000 sending 14 councillors and staff to America for a three-city visit over ten days, starting this week. The Council says the delegation will be involved in a series of promotional visits to the three US cities during the trip which kicked off on Wednesday.
First off, county mayor Danny Collins (Ind) is leading an eight-strong delegation flying from Dublin to Chicago. Bantry-based Councillor Collins will be joined by Cllrs Michael Hegarty (FG), Ben Dalton O’Sullivan (Ind) and Patrick Gerard Murphy (FF), as well as Cork County Council staff chief executive Tim Lucey, Mairéad Lucey (senior executive officer), communications and marketing manager Lisa O’Riordan and Mary Hickey (senior staff officer).
This Thursday it will be the turn of deputy mayor Deirdre O’Brien (FF) to lead a four-strong delegation on a plane from Dublin to Detroit, with Cllrs Mary Linehan Foley (Ind) and Kay Dawson (FG) on board, along with senior staff officer Mags Donovan.
On March 13th and 14th, the county mayor and deputy mayor fly from Chicago and Detroit respectively to New York. Their delegations fly home, to be replaced by two more Council delegates flying in from Shannon to New York – namely divisional manager Clodgah Henehan, and Kevin Morey, director of service.
After attending the St Patrick’s Day Parade in New York, the delegates return to Ireland on March 18th.
The total cost of bringing the multi-pronged delegation to the three cities in the run-up to St Patrick’s Day is published at €33,474. The figure covers flights and accommodation for the 14 attendees but does not refer to any sundry expenses which may be incurred.
In exchange for this cost, the ten days are jam-packed with meetings and representations designed to promote Cork as an attractive destination for tourists and conference attendees, as well as strengthening the existing connections between Cork and the USA, according to a spokesperson for the Council. With Cook County (the county in which Chicago is situated), Co Cork has a ‘sister county agreement’ in place since 1999, while Cork has a ‘friendship agreement’ in place with the City of Detroit since 2019.
From an economic point of view, the links between Cork and the USA are significant, with 122 IDA-supported American companies in the county, including such household names as Ely Lilly, Dell and Pfizer.
Separately, a delegation from the Council, comprising county mayor Danny Collins, and Council staff Mairead Lucey and Lisa O’Riordan, travelled to Chicago from January 25th to 28th as a precursor to this month’s trip, which included the mayor’s attendance at what was described as a ‘re-parade gala dinner’.
Defending the trips, Cllr Paul Hayes (Ind) said it was important in these challenging economic times to ‘tap into a network of influential members of our diaspora’.
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