NEW YORK—Despite a swell of protests against the U.S.-led Iraq War from Ireland’s traditionally pro-American population, the two countries remain on good terms, said James C. Kenny, U.S. ambassador to Ireland, during a recent visit to Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus.
Since the beginning of the military campaign in Iraq, the Irish government has granted flyover and landing rights to U.S. military transports traveling to the Middle East, but the Irish people have strongly voiced their disapproval, as was evident last June when more than 10,000 protestors greeted President George W. Bush during a visit to Ireland.
“There are days when we will disagree on issues,” said Kenny. “But the longevity of our relationship will always far outweigh the negative impact of any one issue.”
Illustrating the countries’ strong ties, he pointed to the economic boom over the last decade that has taken Ireland from being one of the poorest countries in Europe to one the richest.
“Ireland is a changed country from what it was 10 to 15 years ago,” said Kenny. “U.S. investment in Ireland is a very big part of this story.”
Approximately one-third of U.S. investment in Europe is in Ireland and nearly half of the foreign companies in Ireland are U.S.-owned, said Kenny. In 2003, U.S. investment in Ireland approached nearly $5 billion and was more than twice the amount of U.S. investment in China. Additionally, there are more than 100,000 U.S. citizens working in Ireland.
The country’s economic success has been so extensive, that, according to Kenny, many of the newer countries in the European Union are looking to model their economic strategy on Ireland.
The Fordham University Institute of Irish Studies sponsored Kenny’s visit. The Institute was established in 1997 to promote scholarly interest in Irish history, society and culture, and has since emerged as one of the premier centers of Irish cultural scholarship and research in New York City.