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President's Report 2006

Michael Gibbons - Ireland US Council President
Michael J. Gibbons
Council President

As the Council's 44th year moves to a close, our planning has turned to focus on our 45th year in 2007. During the past year, the Council has undertaken an active and successful program of activities—all aimed at fulfilling the organization's mission to build durable and enduring business bonds between America and Ireland.

In this Annual Report it is an honor for me, as President of the Council, to provide details of the organization's agenda of activities sponsored by the organization during the past year.

The first meeting of the Council took place in New York City in 1963. The founders, American and Irish business leaders, were committed to building business bonds between both countries. From today's vantage point, it might appear that the commercial connections between America and Ireland, north and south, were surely destined to bloom and blossom.

However, back then, the view on the ground was bleaker. The business and economic relationships between the Emerald Isle and the United States were thin and quite tenuous. The human connections, however, were strong: emigration to America was still massive and the heritage and historical ties between both were deep and well-rooted.

But, capital connections were weak. There was very little industrial investment in Ireland from America. The early harbinger of hope that Henry Ford had encouraged with the 1917 establishment of Ford Motor Company's first overseas plant in Cork, proved to be a lonely and almost solitary one.

Of course, we all know that today American industrial capital has been a key driver of economic growth in the modern Ireland. Members and friends of the Council are well aware that little, if any, of the capital formation sponsored by U.S. firms in Ireland has been undertaken because of heritage connections.

The hard reality is that business decisions to invest in Ireland by American corporations have been based not on any nostalgic Irish-American connections, but on solid business principles. These decisions were rooted in the bottom line that the Emerald Isle was the best place to invest, having considered all competing locations for the investment dollar.

So, how did this happen? Back in 1963 when the Council was inaugurated, the flesh was just being put on the bones of an emerging industrial policy in Ireland that had the enthusiastic backing of this Council. Don't forget that this was a full decade before Ireland joined the European Union, and almost fifteen years before Ireland's membership of that European club became fully effective thru the removal of all tariff barriers and quota impediments to free trade.

Back then, agriculture was a hugely important component of the economy in the Emerald Isle. But, the future would not lie in basic primary production activity such as livestock and grains. The decision had been taken to fundamentally alter the shape and substance of economic activity in Ireland. Today, half a century later the fruits of that strategic direction change are everywhere to be seen in Ireland. Rapid growth in prosperity has accompanied the economic change. Per capita income in Ireland is now amongst the highest in the world.

Ireland continues to attract investment from the United States. Leading-edge trend-setting American companies in new-age technologies—such as Google and E-Bay—are now choosing Ireland as the best place to headquarter European operations. They follow the example of companies such as Apple Computer and Microsoft, who a quarter-century ago were the trend-setters of that era and who had decided on Ireland as the best place in Europe to base their business operations.

A scourge of centuries has been defeated—involuntary emigration has ended. Ireland's economic problems today are ones caused by growth—not the lack of it. Deficits in things like roads, tunnels, bridges, hospitals and airports make today's headlines in Ireland. Ireland is now a destination for a new wave of emigrants from the east who are on the move in search of a better life.

As we have watched this transformation, this Council has always been steadfastly committed to the principles of economic freedom, individual liberty and private enterprise that have made life so fruitful for so many free peoples around the world. It has been especially gratifying to see the bountiful success of such policies, which in so many ways took strong cues from American economic management principles, in Ireland.

2006 Council Programs

As President of the Council it is an honor for me to report to members and friends of this Council on the organization's activities this past year on both sides of the Atlantic.

Winter Meeting Florida 2006

The Council's Winter Meeting in Palm Beach, FL continues to attract support from members and has become an important and much-anticipated date on the Council's calendar. It is growing in popularity with members in the United States and in Ireland. The second week of February is when the Council gathers in Florida. Members and friends of the Council who have not attended in the past are encouraged to come along in 2007 — the dates then are Wednesday February 14 thru Friday February 16, 2007.
Brochure from Winter Meeting 2006 During this year's 2006 Winter Meeting, the Council hosted an opening night Welcome cocktail reception on Wednesday, February 15 at the beautiful waterfront home of Cathleen and Walter Ross. We also staged a splendid luncheon at the impressive Beach Club at which the Council's Guest Speaker Ambassador Noel Fahey, Ireland's Ambassador to the United States, spoke eloquently on key issues in the relationship between the United States and Ireland
The Council also scheduled some golf and a boat cruise to a dinner on Friday, February 17 at which the Guest Speaker was John Mulcahy, Editor of the Irish Arts Review. Mr. Mulcahy's interesting discussion centered on a lively yet brief interpretation of the history of Irish art, and included reference especially to contemporary exponents in modern Irish paintings. Click here to read more about this event and view photos.

St. Patrick's Luncheon in New York

Brochure from St. Patrick's Day 2006 Luncheon

As usual, in March, the Council hosted its annual St. Patrick's Week luncheon on March 16 in New York. A highlight of the occasion was a spectacular performance by the excellent traditional/contemporary entertainment ensemble Celtic Woman, whose performances on public television in the United States made them a favorite.

Greetings from Ireland were presented at the luncheon by Martin Cullen, Ireland's Minister for Transport. The date for next year's St. Patrick's Luncheon has been set for Friday, March 16, 2007. Click here to read more about this event and view photos.

Council Hosts American Tax Day Lunch in Dublin

Brochure from Tax Day 2006 Lunch in Dublin Each year, on a date as close to April 15 as possible, the Council hosts an American Tax Day Luncheon in Ireland. This year's event was held in Dublin and the Prinicpal Speaker was Noel Treacy, TD who is the Minister of State at Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs.

The luncheon was sponsored by Bovis Lend Lease and Elan Corporation. Brian Goggin, Council President in Ireland, led the proceedings. Click here to read more about this event and view photos.

Ireland's Opposition Leader Hosted at New York Lunch

Brochure from Opposition Leader Lunch 2006

With a General Election looming in Ireland, the Council hosted a luncheon meeting in New York to hear an address by Enda Kenny, TD, the Leader of Fine Gael, the largest Opposition political party in Ireland. The event was staged at The River Club in New York City on June 8 this year.

Michael J. Gibbons, Council President, said "While the exact date of Ireland's next General Election may not be known for a while, we do know that it must take place before the end of June 2007 and most probably will occur within the next twelve months. It is a long-standing Council tradition to host the leader of Ireland's principal Opposition party before a General Election. The Council was pleased, therefore, to have arranged this meeting to hear from Enda Kenny, TD who was elected Leader of Fine Gael in June, 2002."

During his remarks, Mr. Kenny acknowledged that the upcoming General Election in Ireland would present a real choice for Ireland's voters. However, he emphasized that on matters of fundamental economic policy affecting investment from the United States, a change in Ireland's Government to one led by Fine Gael would not mean any alteration of the positive philosophy toward businesses that has been a hallmark of Ireland's policy for over 50 years. He added that any Government led by his political party would seek only to improve the climate for business in the Emerald Isle. Click here to read more about this event and view photos.

Council Golf Day in Ireland

Brochure from Council Golf Day 2006 in Ireland

As was mentioned last year, the Council concluded planning for its first-ever golf day in Ireland which was held September 5 at Druids Glen in County Wicklow. The occasion was very well-supported and was a popular success, made especially so because of the superb golf course and the fine weather for the event.

The American Ambassador in Ireland, His Excellency James C. Kenny, who will be leaving his post this year to return to his business career in the United States, attended the post-golf dinner and addressed the gathering delivering warm and generous praise for the Council's activities both in Ireland and in the United States. Click here to read more about this event and view photos.

Council Golf Day in New York

Brochure from Council Golf Day 2006 in Ireland

The Council hosted its annual golf day on July 24 at Rye Golf Club in Rye, New York. The occasion was marked by another day of wonderful weather, excellent support from members and friends of the Council.

Many dozens of great prizes were available for those present. A committee of Council members and directors, headed by Niall Millar, President of AtlanticGolf in Stamford, CT helped generate strong support for this successful event. A principal sponsor was Tourism Ireland. Click here to read more about this event and view photos.

American Night in Dublin June 2006

Brochure from American Night in Dublin 2006

The Council hosted An American Night in Dublin in the National Gallery of Ireland in Merrion Square on Friday, June 23, 2006 at which the Council presented its new Portraitist of the Year Award, part of a new program to support arts and arts education in Ireland. The Council undertook this effort in conjunction with the Irish Arts Review, the quarterly publication devoted to Irish culture, art and design and the Royal Hibernian Academy in Ireland.

The new program has received generous sponsorship from Prudential Financial, Inc. and its Executive Vice President, Robert Charles Golden, who is a Board Member of this Council. The Guest Speaker at the dinner was the President of Fox Television, Council Director Dennis Swanson, whose remarks detailed an overview of current trends in broadcasting in the United States in an age of Internet connectivity. Click here to read more about this event and view photos.

New York Member - Guest — An Evening of Chamber Music

The Council hosted a Member-Guest evening in October this year at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall to hear a performance by the Royal Irish Academy of Music Chamber Orchestra. The concert included a special appearance by Dr. John O'Conor, the renowned concert pianist who is the Director of the Academy. A post-concert reception was held for members and guests. Click here to read more about this event and view photos.

Council Hosts Lunch at Belfast City Hall

Brochure from Belfast City Hall Lunch 2006

The Council also hosted a Luncheon Meeting event in Belfast, Northern Ireland, as part of the continuing program to attract new members there. The event was presided over by the President of the Council's Ireland Chapter, Mr. Brian Goggin, Chief Executive of Bank of Ireland Group. The Council's Guest Speakers were both American investors in Ireland - Tom Kane, Chief Executive of Adare Manor Hotel & Golf Resort and Jay Connolly, Managing Director of Waterville House & Golf Links. The successful event was well-attended and was staged at Belfast City Hall.

The event was sponsored in part by Continental Airlines which last year inaugurated the first-ever nonstop direct scheduled daily air service between Northern Ireland and the United States—a daily service from Newark, New Jersey and Belfast. Click here to read more about this event and view photos.

Scholarships Program

The Council's Scholarships Program was a feature of the New York Lunch on June 8 of this year when several of the citations were presented to this year's Council scholars. The Council's scholarship awards program was inaugurated over 25 years ago for students from universities from all parts of the island of Ireland.

These scholarships are presented to students in their third year of four-year college undergraduate degree programs. The scholarships take the form of project-oriented assignments in Council member-corporations in America. The candidates are chosen by the academic faculty in the departments receiving the awards. Usual conditions apply to these scholarships awards, including the following:

  • The awards are open to undergraduate students who have not yet completed their final year in University and who qualify for temporary J1 student work visas in the United States;
  • Candidates are chosen by the participating University in Ireland;
  • Visas must be arranged through the appropriate visa-issuing agency in Ireland;
  • Scholarships may also be awarded to undergraduate students who possess U.S. citizenship or green cards (resident alien status in the U.S.);
  • The Council requires each sponsor company to provide a bursary of $2,500 to each student to cover program, travel and incidental expenses;
  • Employment of a project-oriented nature is provided in the United States. The student's salary is paid by the sponsoring company for the duration of the assignment;
  • The sponsoring company is asked to provide assistance to the Council scholar in helping to secure accommodation and to adjust to the challenge of the assignment in America.
The Council continues to receive excellent support from many Council member-companies for this worthwhile program.


There are some current issues of concern to the Council on which discussions are being held and initiatives contemplated. These include:

  • the failure to sign a timely agreement on an open skies policy that would further liberalize the aviation air bridge between Ireland and America;
  • some issues affecting intellectual property rights;
  • comprehensive immigration reform that would solve ongoing problems affecting Americans seeking worker certification in Ireland plus satisfactory resolution of the status of illegal Irish immigrants in America.
The business bonds binding Ireland and the United States have never been stronger or deeper. The Council is gratified that the burgeoning economic connections that have so transformed relations between our two countries continue to expand as they spread wealth and generate prosperity. These transatlantic links have flourished in every area of the relationship—trade, investment, tourism and education.

Michael J. Gibbons - Council President Michael J. Gibbons
Council President

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