State delegation in Australia to forge business, cultural links
AN OIREACHTAS delegation has arrived in Australia for a week of meetings with Australian politicians, business people and Irish community groups.
Leas-Chathaoirleach Senator Denis O’Donovan is joined by his Fianna Fáil colleague Barry Cowen, along with Charlie Flanagan, Frank Feighan and Áine Collins of Fine Gael.
In addition to meeting local companies that work with Enterprise Ireland, the group is meeting the Australian Industry Group in Sydney and the Australian Ireland Chamber of Commerce in Melbourne.
“More so now than ever, with our economy in the recovery mode, it’s important to create and extend and expand links,” Mr O’Donovan said last night.
The delegation is also meeting with the Irish Australian Welfare Bureau and other Irish representative organisations. “Something that shouldn’t be underestimated is that we’re very conscious that there are around 30,000 young Irish people in Australia,” he said.
“We’re meeting Irish community representatives. We want to listen to what, if any, problems they have, what they wish to say to us as public representatives, and take back their complaints and their views.”
The Senator said reports of young Irish people causing trouble in Australia have been “totally exaggerated”.
“The issue of a very small percentage of young Irish people getting into trouble, mainly through overindulgence in alcohol, was raised in the media in Ireland fairly extensively. From the research we have done . . . it seems to be a very small percentage,” he said.
“By and large, the young Irish people [in Australia] are hardworking. They are diligent and I think 99 per cent of them are very law-abiding people we are proud of.
“It’s something that has been totally exaggerated. I have no fears that there’s an Irish drink culture here or that there’s a problem with Irish emigrants here.
“I don’t have any fear or concern of its impact on the relationship between Ireland and Australia.”