July 2, 2004
(Executive Council)
(Innovation, Trade and Rural Development)


Premier Williams to renew province�s partnership with Ireland

Danny Williams, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, will lead a delegation on an official visit to Ireland from July 5 to 9 to re-establish economic ties with the Irish government. Premier Williams will be joined by Kathy Dunderdale, Minister of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development. It will be the province�s first official visit to Ireland since October 2002. While in Ireland, the delegation will meet with Irish officials and business representatives and they will take part in separate events with the Newfoundland Symphony Youth Choir and three Newfoundland and Labrador high technology companies who are also visiting Ireland.

Premier Williams said the province has three primary objectives in making this visit. "As a province, we already share deep and profound ties with Ireland. So, the first thing we want to do is strengthen and build upon the overall relationship between Ireland and Newfoundland and Labrador," said Premier Williams. "Secondly, we intend to further examine Ireland as a model for economic development and see what practices we can apply to the economic development of our province. Finally, we plan to re-affirm the Memorandum of Understanding the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador originally signed with Ireland in 1996," said the Premier.

The original memorandum of understanding (MOU) emphasized co-operation between the two governments in various business, cultural and educational initiatives. The reaffirmation will confirm the importance of the relationship and further focus efforts on economic sectors that offer strategic opportunities to both jurisdictions, notably, ocean technologies. The activities under the MOU are coordinated in Newfoundland and Labrador by the Ireland Business Partnership, a private-sector led group which was formed when the MOU was first signed.

"I have always been intrigued and fascinated by the Irish experience," added the Premier. "This country was facing certain financial disaster and they turned their economy, their education system and their people around to become a model for the rest of the world. Despite the fact that Ireland is a country and we are a province, I firmly believe that given our natural similarities, Newfoundland and Labrador can emulate the amazing Irish experience and put our province on the road to self-sufficiency and prosperity. We can be the North American Celtic Tiger."

Minister Dunderdale also believes that building greater relationships with Ireland can benefit this province. "Much can be accomplished with a renewed Memorandum of Understanding between our jurisdictions. Newfoundland and Labrador has strong ties to Ireland as much of our cultural heritage has its foundation in Irish tradition. We must continue to build on the traditions and relationships with the Irish in areas of mutual interest, such as trade, commerce and investment," said Minister Dunderdale.

The delegation will arrive in Cork, Ireland, on July 4 and spend a day and a half in Waterford where they will visit the Waterford Institute of Technology and its Centre for Newfoundland Studies, as well as visit the new Newfoundland and Labrador exhibit at the Waterford Museum of Treasures recently opened by Irish President Mary McAleese. While in Waterford, Premier Williams will also receive an Honourary Fellowship Award from the Waterford Institute of Technology.

The delegation will then proceed to Dublin for meeting with officials of the Irish government, business and economic development organizations, as well as Irish partners/clients of three Newfoundland and Labrador companies. Minister Dunderdale will remain in Ireland for two additional days to participate in talks on rural and regional development.

Media contacts:

Elizabeth Matthews, Office of the Premier, (709) 729-3960
Lynn Evans, Innovation, Trade and Rural Development, (709) 729-4570

2004 07 02                                       10:05 a.m.

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