US support ‘invaluable’ to Irish recovery
Taoiseach attends breakfast in New York with mayor Michael Bloomberg
Steven Anderson and Kimberly Anderson watch the St Patrick's Day Parade in New York. Photograph: Carlo Allegri/Reuters
Taoiseach Enda Kenny marched up Fifth Avenue in Manhattan today as part of New York’s 252nd St Patrick’s Day parade.
In front of a crowd of about two million people, Mr Kenny walked with the United Irish Counties group behind members of the Defence Forces and ahead of a group from Breezy Point in Queens, New York which was hit by Hurricane Sandy.
Speaking at a breakfast held by mayor Michael Bloomberg in Gracie Mansion this morning, the Taoiseach said US support and investment in Ireland has been “invaluable” in Ireland’s drive for economic recovery.
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Presenting Mayor Bloomberg with a replica of an Irish emigrant teapot, he said the Irish people were proud of the contribution which generations of Irish men and women have made to the city.
“The Irish are found in every borough every corner of New York. In previous generations they came heartbroken hungry in search of new life new hope,” he said. “Today they come in search of opportunity to work in finance, fashion, film.”
The Taoiseach told attendees of the progress that had been seen in the Irish economy in recent months.
“Our economy is entering its third consecutive year of growth. Competitiveness is up. Prices and costs have fallen back to 2003 levels,” he said.
Perched on a bend overlooking the East River on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, the mansion provided Irish music, food and even Irish coffees to a large crowd.
“It’s my first time to New York and this is just wonderful,” said Rose of Tralee Nicola McEvoy.
Mr Bloomberg and his Irish-American colleague Christine Quinn, speaker of New York City Council who declared her mayoral candidacy last week, welcomed Mr Kenny, emphasising the importance of enduring Irish American relations.
“This is always the greatest St Patrick’s day in the world,” said Mr Bloomberg. “It’s a time to remember all the Irish who built this city and this country – and to understand how New York is truly a city of immigrants.”
Standing among men proudly wearing sashes in the colors of the Irish flag, surrounded by a swarm of varying Irish accents, New York’s ample Irish community was apparent like it rarely is outside of St Patrick’s Day celebrations.
“If the Irish prove anything, its that, like New York City, you can’t keep them down,” Ms Quinn commented during her short speech. “It was the Irish and the Irish government who responded after Hurricane Sandy, and thank you so much for that.”
Mr Bloomberg also noted Ireland’s role in hurricane rebuilding efforts after Superstorm Sandy, which left many New York City neighborhoods devastated after it hit in late October last year. Some heavily Irish pockets, like Breezy Point, which the Taoiseach will visit on the morning of St Patrick’s Day, still resemble eerie war zones.