Thursday, March 19, 2009

Rebuilding Bridges with Our US Cousins

After a successful and positive celebration of St. Patrick’s Day it seems that everyone is singing from the same hymn book for the first time in a very long time.

Here’s just some of the coverage on Toaiseach Cowen’s visit to the White House, to visit his possible cousin President Obama -

Taoiseach Brian Cowen has begun a three-day visit to the US, which will culminate with a meeting with President Barack Obama to celebrate St Patrick's Day……

…The Taoiseach launched a major review yesterday of Ireland-US relations aimed at strengthening the economic and social ties between the two countries.

It is the first significant review of diplomatic relations with the US since the 1930s.
Given the economic difficulties that both Ireland and the US are experiencing, Mr Cowen believes now is the time to re-energise the critical relationship between the two countries.

The New York Times

In a speech Sunday night at the American Irish Historical Society on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, Prime Minister Brian Cowen of Ireland said he would urge the Obama administration to expand visas for Irish workers and allow them to stay two years here instead of the current one.

And in a move to woo Irish-Americans, Mr. Cowen proposed measures to make it easier for Americans to claim Irish citizenship, reversing a restrictive course the Irish government took in 2005.

“The connections between Ireland and America remain strong,” Mr. Cowen said, “but we cannot take them for granted.”....

.....Mr. Cowen was cheered Sunday, at least in some quarters, for his proposal to ease naturalization by allowing Americans whose nearest Irish ancestor is a great-grandparent to qualify for citizenship, provided that they have spent considerable time studying or working in Ireland. Under current law, the most distant forebear an American could claim and still qualify for Irish citizenship is a grandparent....

The number of Americans with Irish ancestry has been estimated to be as high as 40 million, and millions of those people have no closer blood tie to Ireland than a great-grandparent.
The immigration proposal grew out of a “strategic review” of Irish-American relations Mr. Cowen ordered up last year, the first such review performed by the government since the 1930s, he said.

For Irish professionals looking to find work in the United States, Mr. Cowen, 49, who worked doing demolition in Midtown Manhattan on a summer off from college, said he hoped the American government would enact something like the E-3 visas it has offered to a set number Australians a year since 2005.

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