Dignitaries from Athlone were in national feast day travel mode as three elected representatives - one Minister of State and two Municipal District Councillors, visited international locations on promotional visits.
Deputy Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran travelled to Eastern Europe, where he visited Poland and the Czech Republic in his capacity as Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief.
Lauding the welcome he received, the Minister spoke of the strong diaspora present in both countries.
“I was astounded by the level of diaspora present in both countries and indeed, met a number of my own constituents during my visit and it is great to see such a strong Irish presence in Eastern Europe,” Deputy Moran commented.
This Irish presence was reflected from a business perspective also, as the Minister attended a number of functions hosted by Enterprise Ireland which highlighted the positive role companies from this isle are playing in both countries.
“Irish businesses are to the fore in Poland and the Czech Republic and it is important to acknowledge this as well as promote the advantages of investing in Ireland from an Eastern Europe company point of view also,” Deputy Moran remarked.
Eager to seek information pertaining to flood procedures implemented from his equivalent Ministry, Deputy Moran was fulsome in his praise for the manner in which such mechanisms were implemented in areas prone to water damage.
“A mobile flood defence mechanism is regularly used, a wholly impressive system, the benefits of which were shown to me during my stay. Both countries also boast public friendly transport systems which are cost effective and highly utilised on a continuous basis,” the Deputy commented.
Continuing, Deputy Moran noted the ongoing high level of business between Ireland and both countries, with trade in excess of €3 billion being of vital importance.
“In this regard I must commend the work of the Government, Enterprise Ireland and Bord Bia. I attended a food festival in Prague and the outstanding number of Irish products on display would give you an immense source of pride. Indeed, the Irish beef sector is fast becoming a source of revenue and we must continue to have our avenues of trade open with Eastern Europe,” the Deputy concluded.
Town Mayor, Cllr. Frankie Keena, met a number of influential figures during a St. Patrick’s Day visit to Providence, Rhode Island, where strong links have been forged with Athlone since 2012, while Cllr. John Dolan, Cathaoirleach, Westmeath County Council, at the invite request of the Westmeath Association in New York had the privilege of marching in the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.