The Ireland-U.S. Council 2016 President's Report
Brian W. Stack
The Ireland-U.S. Council
The past year has seen a deepening and intensification of economic relations between the United States and Ireland. There has been more capital investment, more commerce and trade, more tourism and more technology transfer between our two countries than ever before. Truly, it can be said that the business bonds and commercial connections tying together America and the Emerald Isle are stronger, deeper and more durable than they have ever been.
The political seasons in Ireland and in the United States have run full course. The uncertainty that automatically accompanies election cycles in any democracy appears to have been more an undercurrent in Ireland-U.S. business relations than a forceful impediment.
It has now been almost 100 months since the darker days of the financial crisis and the economic recessions that rocked both countries. The recovery in both economies has happened somewhat in lockstep – both economies have put the worst of that crisis behind. In America’s case, the economic recovery has been slow-paced but consistent. Ireland, on the other hand, recovered slowly at first but is now firing on all cylinders and recording more rapid economic expansion these days. Although there is much evidence of continuing caution and prudence in economic policies by government and private sector interests alike in both countries.
These are unusual times we live in. The Brexit vote in the United Kingdom this year offers some important challenges to Ireland, north and south. It will time before it is clear how Britain’s exit from the European Union plays out. However, there are several issues that may impact future economic performance in Ireland – especially in Northern Ireland. The free movement of goods, capital and labor on the island may be compromised or hindered in ways that appear uncertain at this time.
Plans for a March 2017 Economic Conference
The Ireland-U.S. Council has decided to stage a major conference on Ireland-U.S. Economic Relations in New York in March 2017. We will partner in this venture with IBEC – the major employers’ organization in Ireland. The Conference will conclude with our regularly-scheduled St. Patrick’s Lunch. We believe this is an important conference at an important time. It will provide a valuable forum for examination of key issues affecting the dynamic, fast-growing and vital economic relationships between the United States and Ireland.
The event is timed - March 15/16, 2017 – to occur after the Governments in both countries will have changed. A General Election has already happened in Ireland this year - resulting in the appearance of many new faces in the Government cabinet in Dublin. A new Administration takes office in the United States in January 2017. Mark your calendars.
A Bite of An Apple
It certainly put the cat among the pigeons. We speak of the decision in Brussels in late August by European Commission regulators that Ireland’s tax treatment of Apple’s operations in the Emerald Isle violated Europe’s rules on state aids to industry – to the tune of a headlinegrabbing $14.5 billion.
The Ireland-U.S. Council stands firmly with the Government of Ireland and with Apple in fighting this ruling (see our briefing and commentary on page 20). Already, the Irish government has commenced an appeal of this regulatory decision. Do not hold your breath waiting for the outcome. Experts who know the way of Brussels say that it could take up to ten years. However, it turns out, we are all on notice that this is a bellwether happening that will have far-reaching implications – even if it takes a long time to resolve.
53rd Annual Dinner of the Council in 2015The 53rd Annual Dinner of the Council saw another full house in attendance for this important event in the Council’s annual calendar which was a great success, staged in the Metropolitan Club in New York City on Thursday, November 13, 2015. The Ireland-U.S. Council’s Award for Outstanding Achievement was presented to Siobhán Talbot, Chief Executive of the fast-growing and successful Irish firm of Glanbia.
2015 Member-Guest Reception in Dublin
The InterContinental Hotel, in Ballsbridge, Dublin (formerly The Four Seasons) was the venue for the Council’s popular Annual December Member-Guest Reception held on Thursday, December 17, 2015.
Keynote remarks were delivered by Greg Varisco, Chief Operations Officer of Houston-based AquaComms which operates transatlantic subsea fiber-optic cable networks. The gathering also heard remarks from Kevin F. O’Malley, United States Ambassador to Ireland.
2016 Winter Meeting: Florida
The 25th annual edition of the Council’s Winter Meeting series was held in Palm Beach, Florida from February 10 thru 12, 2016 and was sponsored by CIE Tours International. The Winter Meeting was kicked off in style with a splendid openingnight dinner party on Wednesday, February 10 hosted by the Council at The Sailfish Club on the banks of the IntraCoastal Waterway in Palm Beach.
On Friday February 12th, the Council hosted a luncheon meeting at The Beach Club at which there was an impressive double-header speaker roster.
Dr. Michael B. Murphy, President, University College Cork delivered remarks on Dr. George Boole (1815-1864) who was Professor of Mathematics at University College Cork. On the 200th Anniversary of his birth, Dr. Murphy’s remarks contained some reflections on his contributions to the modern era.
Also addressing the luncheon gathering were Aileen O’Donoghue & Gerard Scully from Ireland’s Stock Exchange, which is Europe’s leading Gateway Exchange.
2016 St. Patrick’s Luncheon in New York
The 2016 edition of the Ireland-U.S. Council’s St. Patrick’s lunch in the Big Apple is surely a great celebration of “Irish heritage in America. This year “was no exception especially as 2016 is the Centenary year of Commemoration of the 1916 Rising – which was the first step in Ireland’s successful struggle for independence.
Ireland’s Consul General in New York Barbara Jones delivered remarks that were appropriate and fitting for the occasion, noting especially the role played by those in the United States and particularly in New York, in the planning and staging of the Rising at Easter 1916. Also speaking at the lunch was Andrew Murphy, Chief Commercial Officer of Shannon Group who updated Council members and their guests on Shannon Airport and the commercial activities of Shannon Group in the MidWest Region of Ireland.
2016 Council Spring Corporate Lunch in DublinThe Chief Justice of Ireland’s Supreme Court the Hon. Justice Susan Denham was the Guest Speaker at the Ireland- U.S. Council’s Spring Corporate Lunch held in Dublin’s InterContinental Hotel (formerly The Four Seasons Hotel) in April of this year.
In her important and most interesting remarks, which are reproduced in full in this Annual Report, Justice Denham noted that “the strong links between Ireland and the USA may be illustrated by looking through the prism of the law – past and present. The legal ties between Ireland and the U.S.A are rooted in concepts of independence and equality.”
2016 Scholarships Program Lunch in New York
The Council’s 32nd annual program of Student Work Experience Scholarships for 2016 was celebrated this year at an awards luncheon held at The Metropolitan Club in New York City on Thursday, June 9, 2016.
Council President Brian W. Stack, welcomed the 2016 Council Scholars to New York. He also noted that “this year’s scholarship awards represent the 32nd year in which the Council has operated this successful and much-admired Scholarship Awards program. We, in the Council, are proud of the role that this program has played over the years as part of the Council’s broader mission to build closer business and economic links between the United States and Ireland.”
2016 MidSummer Gala Dinner in Dublin
Dublin Castle may be the best venue for a dinner party anywhere in Ireland. And that is where the Ireland-U.S. Council’s MidSummer Gala Dinner was successfully hosted on Friday, June 24, 2016. The glittering occasion saw PwC’s Marie O’Connor receive the Council’s 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award marking especially her notable and important achievements in building business bonds between America and Ireland.
Also at the event, the Council presented its 2016 edition of its Annual Award for Outstanding Portraiture to a young Dublin artist Molly Judd.
2016 Council Golf Days in Ireland and in the U.S.
In 2016, many members and their guests in both countries enjoyed the opportunity to participate in Council-organized Golf Days. The Annual Golf Day in the United States saw another successful event at Rye Golf Club in Rye, New York – on its usual last Monday in July calendar date.
On the other side of the Atlantic, inclement weather did not dampen the spirits as a strong turnout of Council members and their guests were on hand on September 9 at the splendid Dún Laoghaire Golf Club in County Wicklow near Dublin – site of this year’s staging of the ladies’ amateur biennial transatlantic golf match between the United States and Great Britain & Ireland. Sadly for the U.S. team, they had to return to the United States without the Curtis Cup.
Council Partners in the Arts in Ireland and in U.S.
The Council continues to partner with outstanding arts organizations. We believe that by showcasing excellence in the arts, our Council activities are enhanced by the artistic performances this collaboration encourages.
During 2016, the Council continued its collaborations with Ireland’s national theatre The Abbey Theatre; the Royal Irish Academy of Music; the Irish Repertory Theatre, Classical Arts Ireland and others.
The Council is a membership organization and welcomes new members for its mission and activities on both sides of the Atlantic. Council Membership Chairman Peter Hooper is keen to hear of potential new member candidates.
The Last Word
As improving economic conditions continue to evolve between the United States and Ireland, the bonds and connections between our two countries continue to be deep, dynamic and, most of all, durable.
I wish to thank all our members, supporters, sponsors and friends in the United States and in Ireland for their participation and support this past year. We hope you will continue that tradition of support, loyalty and commitment during the coming year.
Brian W. Stack
November 10, 2016
New York City
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