Ireland’s Ambassador to Canada was in Calgary this week, where he told a luncheon meeting of the Ireland-Canada Centre for Commerce (ICCC) that his country’s economy is on the comeback after several difficult years. “Part of the recovery strategy is increasing trade and tourism between Ireland and Canada”, said Ray Bassett, at the October 26 gathering at the Westin Hotel.
“Calgary and Alberta is our number one priority in Canada,” said Bassett. He noted Canada helped young people from Ireland weather the gloomy economy by opening up opportunities for employment here. Over 500,000 Albertans claim they have Irish heritage. “I think those young people who came to Canada revolutionized the Irish-Canadian relationship,” said Bassett.
As part of his trip to Calgary, Bassett and Regan met with Westjet officials, discussing the need for more direct flights to Ireland from Alberta.
The ICCC luncheon was sponsored by Vermilion Energy, which expects production to begin soon on a deep-water natural gas operation off the coast of Ireland providing up to 60% of Irelands gas needs and lessening Ireland’s dependence on English and Russian gas.
Almost 300 Irish companies do business in Canada, of which, over 50 have a local presence of some kind. There are approximately 25 Canadian companies in Ireland and about 7,000 Canadians are employed by Irish companies.
With Ireland’s economic ties to Calgary strong and growing, Bassett, announced he is looking to Laureen Regan to help maintain momentum. Regan, the head of the Boom Group which administers programs for corporations to optimize employee engagement, was appointed Ireland’s Vice-Consul Trade and Investment in Alberta. Regan, who is Irish born, also founded the Calgary chapter of the Ireland-Canada Centre for Commerce (ICCC).
Bassett said she was an obvious choice. “She has a proven track record here,” said Bassett. “She’s a tremendous networker, she’s a great human being and she’s very popular within the community. So it was a no-brainer.”
Regan will work with Deirdre Halferty, Ireland’s Honorary Consul responsible for boosting Irish community and cultural links.