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  Félix Peña

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  The Southern Cross | November de 2009

A GLOBAL NETWORK OF IRISH PEOPLE: The driving force behind a valuable idea


English version of an article published at The Southern Cross (El impulso inicial de una idea valiosa).

Hope, confidence and imagination are qualities that combine and stand out in the Irish people. It was John F. Kennedy - an eminent member of the Diaspora - who pointed this out in his address before the Irish Parliament, on his visit to Ireland in 1963.

These same qualities could be perceived in an atmosphere full of proposals and ideas at the recent Global Irish Economic Forum, held at Farmleigh, Dublin, in September.

Ireland was badly stricken by the effects of the current global crisis on its economy and, in particular, on its financial system. However, the internal debate on how to sail into the future is characterised by the abovementioned qualities. There is the awareness that only through a positive agenda, willpower and innovation it will be possible to move ahead. Additionally, this will require imagination to adapt to the new realities and to take advantage of the opportunities offered by them, as long as they can be identified. Many of us, the descendants of those Irish people who at one point had to emigrate - sometimes under the most difficult circumstances - and got scattered all over the world, recognise in such an assertive attitude a trait that is inscribed within our genetic code, almost an essential characteristic of our Irish roots and identity.

A central idea that emerged from the forum was to connect the millions of Irish people living in Ireland and abroad. What for? To generate a network for the mutual benefit that enables to profit from the wealth of experiences and visions that can be contributed by those living in such diverse environments. In the measure that they are able to articulate their ties and their willingness to work together, the Irish living in Ireland - with their strong links to Europe and the world; with their capacity and their pride for having produced an economic success that they are eager to renew; with their interest in a global community with which they share blood, qualities and visions - and the Irish descendants scattered around the world - with their diverse backgrounds, characterised by a wonderful ability to adapt to different local circumstances and experiences; with an out-breeding that has not weakened nor hindered their pride of being Irish; with their relevant roles in the multiple political, business and cultural sectors - may build a powerful force in an increasingly globalised world which, at the same time, is eager to reconcile differences and blend together the positive contributions of all.

From my perspective - and each one would have to evaluate his or her own role in the network connecting the Irish Diaspora in the world - there are at least three possible lines of action that might help link the Irish descendants living in Argentina with those of the rest of the world and, particularly, of Ireland. The first one is related to the connection of the competitive intelligence resulting from the understanding of the respective regional experiences - for example, that of Argentina in South America and that of Ireland in Europe, in both cases opening up to the world and the immense opportunities offered by economic and cultural globalisation. The second course of action is related to the growing need to cater to the world's demand for smart and green food, that is, with added intellectual value and strong environmental quality criteria. On this regard the existing potential between Argentina and Ireland is enormous. Finally, the third line of action has to do with the opportunities resulting from the quality of life and health demands of a population with an ever increasing life expectancy. Shared undertakings based on the quality of the health and medical services and on the demands originated by the relative ageing of our populations is a possible area for joint work that could be developed into concrete projects.

The Farmleigh meeting was the initial stepping stone for a valuable idea with a strong projection into the future. We, the Irish descendants living in Argentina, must now reflect together on how to play an active role in the global Irish network and in what ways we can all capitalize on it.

Félix Peña Director of the Institute of International Trade at the ICBC Foundation. Director of the Masters Degree in International Trade Relations at Tres de Febrero National University (UNTREF). Member of the Executive Committee of the Argentine Council for International Relations (CARI). Member of the Evian Group Brains Trust. More information. |

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