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Global spotlight shines on West Cork as all that's great and good about Irish is celebrated

March 25th, 2018 2:25 PM

By Emma Connolly

In Wellington, New Zealand, during Minister of State Jim Daly's St Patrick's Day celebrations trip he met with David O'Brien from Skibbereen; Liam Crowley from Leap; Niamh O'Riordan from Leap and Colm Kearney from Skibbereen

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THE role that Skibbereen’s Ludgate is playing in rural regeneration has been lauded by business leaders in New Zealand. 

Minister of State at the Department of Health Jim Daly has just returned from a 12 day state trip to both New Zealand and Australia where he highlighted the work being done by the West Cork hub in building a sustainable digital economy for the area.

The Cork South West TD singled out the hub for mention when he addressed a business gathering and said: ‘What they were most impressed by was that this was not a government initiative.’

Minister Daly, whose trip incorporated St Patrick’s Day celebrations, also said he was hugely struck at how highly thought of Irish people are in the countries he visited. 

‘This is far from a myth – the Irish are really punching above their weight and are very successful and resourceful. I came across a huge amount of West Cork connections and found that we are very well represented.’

Having said that he said a big issue for many Irish is planning how to return home. 

‘Getting back is an issue and I pointed out our inter-departmental group is designed to help with this,’ he said. 

‘People are assured by our economy and they miss home but they do like the lifestyles they’re enjoying. Most, ultimately do plan to return home at some point,’ he added. 

It was his first time ‘down under’ and said it was an incredible honour to represent the country on the state visit. 

‘I came away realising that we are a lot better off that we might think. Having met ministerial counterparts – who were most impressed with the likes of our Citizens Assembly – I think I gave more than I got.’

Meanwhile, Goleen Coast Guard flew the West Cork flag in the parade in Portland. A group of 10 marched in their formal uniforms as part of a six day visit to the area.  

West Cork was also represented in London’s parade as part of the London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign entry, titled “Behind every great county …” 

The group, set up in 2016, brings people in London together to campaign for free, safe, legal abortion in Ireland. 

Ambassadors in the parade carried wooden cut-outs celebrating the 32 counties, while also displaying the number of women from each county who have travelled to Britain for an abortion: 241 women declared a Cork address when they travelled to Britain for this purpose in 2016.

Marguerite Regan, originally from Bantry and now living in East London, represented Cork in the parade and said: ‘I’m so proud to say that behind every great county in Ireland there is a number we will no longer ignore.”

The group is also behind the #HometoVote campaign calling on eligible Irish voters abroad—an estimated 40,000 plus—to come home to vote in May’s referendum on repealing the eighth Amendment.

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