Ir­ish am­bas­sador vis­its SDG

The Glengarry News - - News -

BY STEVEN WARBURTON

News Staff The or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee that brought Ir­ish Am­bas­sador Jim Kelly into SDG last Fri­day could not have picked a more ap­pro­pri­ate day than Sept. 21.

For one thing, it fell on the oneyear an­niver­sary of the Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic and Trade Agree­ment ( CETA) be­tween Canada and the Euro­pean Union. For an­other, it rained heav­ily that day, which must have re­minded Mr. Kelly of his na­tive Ire­land.

Mr. Kelly didn’t men­tion the rain in his speech to a crowd of about 200 at the Corn­wall Golf

and Coun­try Club on Fri­day morn­ing, but he did talk about CETA and Canada’s long re­la­tion­ship with the Ir­ish.

The am­bas­sador spoke briefly about the cur­rent NAFTA ne­go­ti­a­tions, men­tion­ing how Canada cur­rently ships 75 per cent of its ex­ports to the United States and how that could be jeop­ar­dized by Amer­i­can tar­iffs. Then he men­tioned CETA as a so­lu­tion.

“Canada is look­ing at other trad­ing part­ners,” he said, adding that Brexit is also prompt­ing Euro­pean coun­tries, like Ire­land, to seek trade part­ners too.

In­deed, he says that Canada is

al­ready em­brac­ing the Emer­ald Isle and that there has been an in­crease in the num­ber of flights back and forth be­tween the two coun­tries.

He says that Ire­land’s largely an­glo­phone pop­u­la­tion and its knowl­edge-based cul­ture has made it an ideal spot for Cana­dian com­pa­nies look­ing to open of­fices in Europe.

Mr. Kelly also spoke pas­sion­ately about the Celtic cul­ture he saw that day in SDG. He spoke about the Ir­ish Potato Famine, which killed a mil­lion Ir­ish res­i­dents in the 1840s and caused an­other mil­lion to leave as refugees.

“Ire­land was the world’s

refugee cri­sis of the mid-19th cen­tury,” he said. “The Cana­di­ans were gen­er­ous in help­ing peo­ple who had a dis­ease that couldn’t be cured.”

Mr. Kelly fur­ther noted that the Mo­hawk peo­ple were among the first to step for­ward and of­fer help to the refugees.

Ear­lier that day, Mr. Kelly, along with an en­tourage of lo­cal politi­cians and com­mu­nity mem­bers, vis­ited the Corn­wall mon­u­ment that pays trib­ute to the about 250 Ir­ish who died here as a re­sult of the famine. It was an ex­pe­ri­ence he de­scribed as “very mov­ing.”

The am­bas­sador’s visit was made pos­si­ble, in part, through the hard work of an in­for­mal group of lo­cal busi­ness peo­ple and farmers whose man­date is to do a bet­ter job of mar­ket­ing the re­gion.

Group mem­ber Eleanor McGrath says she got the idea in June while at­tend­ing a meet­ing at St. Lawrence Col­lege, where she learned that the in­sti­tu­tion has links to five uni­ver­si­ties in Ire­land.

“We knew the Ir­ish am­bas­sador from other func­tions,” she says. “That day, I con­nected the am­bas­sador with Deb Stada, the col­lege’s dean.“

She says that from there, the trip blos­somed and the group made that the area's con­nec­tion to Ire­land could be pro­moted and ex­plored. She was de­lighted that the am­bas­sador ded­i­cated an en­tire day to his visit.

STEVEN WARBURTON PHOTO

AM­BAS­SADOR VISIT: Ir­ish Am­bas­sador Jim Kelly speaks to a crowd at the Corn­wall Golf and Coun­try Club on Fri­day morn­ing. Shown in the back­ground are United Coun­ties of SDG War­den Ian McLeod and Stor­mont-Dun­das-South Glen­garry MP Guy Lau­zon.

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