US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland for Economic Affairs Joe Kennedy III is in Ireland and Northern Ireland this week to hear “more about new innovations and the vibrant all-island economy.”
On Tuesday, Kennedy met with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste Micheál Martin, and US Ambassador to Ireland Claire Cronin in Dublin.
Cronin, who said she had a “great conversation” with her fellow Massachusetts politician, noted that US businesses have invested $1.8 billion in Northern Ireland.
A great conversation with @ibec_irl and @USEnvoyNI about the challenges and profound opportunities for business investment in Northern Ireland. U.S. businesses have invested $1.8 billion and that is just a start. pic.twitter.com/0RvjkcCg0S
— Ambassador Claire Cronin (@USAmbIreland) June 20, 2023
According to the PA, Kennedy told reporters at Iveagh House after meeting with Martin: “From all of my interactions and engagements with businesses that are looking to invest or are eager to hear more about opportunities in Northern Ireland, there’s an excitement.
“There’s a recognition that there’s been a lot in the news on Northern Ireland as of late, particularly with the agreement around the Windsor Framework.
“There’s still obviously some work to be done around the formation of an Executive, but given the 230 businesses that already have operations in Northern Ireland and the stories that they can tell, the success they can demonstrate, there’s a real eagerness to invest.
“I will also say that Northern Ireland isn’t the only area in the world that has been having challenges in having their government run smoothly these days.
“So we are hopeful and optimistic obviously of this process moving forward.
“I’m eager to make good on the President’s promise to bring a trade delegation to help show off the opportunities in Northern Ireland and the benefits that I can bring to the people of Northern Ireland.
“Is there some short term challenges that they have to get through? Of course, as I said, there’s short term challenges in a lot of places.
“The United States has bet on the people of Northern Ireland now for decades. We’re eager to continue that.”
This new role further evidence of the commitment of the US and President Biden to Northern Ireland, and realising the potential of the Good Friday Agreement. pic.twitter.com/vWUtxiUkAa
— Micheál Martin (@MichealMartinTD) June 20, 2023
Elsewhere on Tuesday, during a roundtable discussion with journalists following his meetings, Kennedy said that the sooner the Northern Ireland Assembly is back up and running “the better.”
“It is very important that they get back up and running,” Kennedy said, according to the Irish Times.
“I know that all five party leaders feel the same. I know they all feel, like I do, that the sooner they are able to get up and running, the better for everyone.
“There is a real commitment by those party leaders to get up and running. I also know having spent time as a member of Congress, politics is not always easy and sometimes the closer you get to it, the more complicated it is. There is often a process that has to play out through there. I understand that, I respect that.
“As the head of civil service has said, there are changes that need to be made that only an executive will have the authority to do. I think there is an added impetus and need to get back into government. I know that is the intent of all of the parties and I hope they are able to get there as soon as they can.
“I look forward to doing what we can to help, where we can, to provide the space for that to be able to come to pass. I’m hopeful progress comes sooner rather than later.”
Kennedy added: “When you look at the obstacles that Northern Ireland has navigated through, hundreds of years of conflict and disruption, to now 25 years of peace, I’m extremely encouraged and optimistic for the future of Northern Ireland.”
Kennedy is due to meet with Stormont leaders in Belfast this week.