TAOISEACH (Prime Minister) Brian Cowen will be in the U.S. next week on an official visit during which time he will launch an Irish consulate in Atlanta.
Cowen, who is expected to arrive in New York on Monday, will attend the Irish Voice’s Women of Influence celebration at the Irish Consulate in the city that evening, honoring Irish American women for their contributions to society and the economy within the U.S.
After a round of meetings with business and community leaders on Tuesday, a reception will be held in Cowen’s honor at the Irish Consulate, where members of the Irish community are expected to attend.
Later in the week Cowen is expected to visit Georgia where he is to launch another chapter of the Department of Foreign Affairs in Atlanta.
The local chapter of the Ireland Chamber of Commerce United States is planning to host a luncheon for Cowen at a yet unnamed location on Wednesday, July 14, according to a "save-the-date" e-mail message sent to members by chamber president Kevin Conboy.
It is believed that diplomat Paul Gleeson will take up the position of consul general in Atlanta, although this has not been confirmed.
During an official visit to New York and Washington in 2009, Cowen announced that Ireland had completed a strategic review of its relationship with the U.S., and as part of a plan to increase economic cooperation between the countries Ireland would open new consulates in important regions, first in Atlanta, and then in Houston.
On a recent visit to Atlanta Irish Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Collins said the delay in opening the consulate in Georgia was due to the global recession, which has forced Ireland to cut spending and slash pay for government workers.
As Ireland looks forward to recovery in the second half of 2010, the Atlanta consulate "remains a priority for us, and it still remains our intention to establish it just as quickly as possible, and the plan is to do that this year,” Collins told Global Atlanta in February.
In March, at the chamber's annual St. Patrick's Day breakfast in Atlanta, Noel Dempsey, Ireland's minister of transport, said that the plans for the consulate were "well advanced."
"We look forward to a resident Irish consulate joining the growing international community of Atlanta in the autumn," Dempsey said, according to a copy of his prepared remarks on the chamber's website.
Cowen’s full U.S. schedule is not yet available.