Brexit storms may be set to roil Ireland Northwest but Irish America is on hand with a pledge to back the peacemakers and bridge-builders.
No border region enjoys more co-operation than Ireland Northwest where a trailblazing Donegal-Derry partnership has spearheaded a bold economic strategy to transform the fortunes of the area.
Indeed, business and political leaders in the northwest were the first to come forward with proposals to mitigate the turbulence threatened by Brexit. The message from the community in Derry is firm: there can be no good Brexit but if the region is forced to leave the EU against its will, civic leaders will unite to ensure the advances of the past 20 years are not rolled back.
And that message will be heard loud and clear in the US next week when a business mission, led by the mayors of Derry and Donegal, heads to Boston for the 11th annual Golden Bridges conference.
The opening reception of the Golden Bridges conference will take place in the Irish Consulate on the evening of Thursday 14 November where the Rev David Latimer, a heroic peacemaker who worked closely with the late Martin McGuinness, will launch his acclaimed memoir 'A Leap of Faith'. I have had great fun over recent months making the Rev Latimer's acquaintance and helping him piece together a Bob Dylanesque Rolling Thunder book tour of the US. His 'sermons' are not to be missed.
The conference proper opens at the World Trade Centre at 8am on Friday 15th with a keynote address by Jay Ash, CEO of the Massachusetts Competitive Council, the most important business organization in the Commonwealth. I last met Jay in January when I arrived at his office drenched to the skin and 45 minutes late after wandering the streets for an hour searching for his premises during the heaviest rainfall Boston has witnessed in a century (it certainly felt that way, anyhow). Turns out he had given me the wrong address but to make it up to me, he agreed to take time out of his busy schedule to address the Golden Bridges. A former Economic Secretary in Massachusetts, he has a great commitment to Ireland and his address is set to provide much food for thought to all who are interested in economic regeneration. (I arrived home from that Boston visit in the throes of a cold - it had to be a cold as I had my flu jab — which floored your correspondent. On a Sunday morning, I went direct from the airport to bed — and got up on the Friday.)
Mayor Marty Walsh of Boston, a firm friend of Ireland Northwest, will address an awards luncheon where honourees will include Jim Brett, CEO of the New England Council and Conamara's own Sean 'Rocky Ros Muc' Ó Mainnín. For Mayor Walsh, this is something of a warm-up for his visit to Ireland at the of the month where he will drop the puck at the Friendship Four ice hockey tournament — which he initiated — and address the 23rd Aisling Awards gala in Belfast.
Details of the two-day program of debates, discussions, and presentations, as well as luncheon and conference registration information, can be viewed online.
See you there!