Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue announced at the fifth annual St. Patrick’s Day breakfast of the Atlanta chapter of the Ireland Chamber of Commerce in the United States that he would travel to Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland during his upcoming European business development tour in June.

Speaking at the breakfast on March 16 held at the Georgia Aquarium and wearing a bright green jacket, Mr. Perdue said that he thinks he will be the first governor from the United States to make an official tour of Belfast, Northern Ireland’s capital, since the latest protocol agreement between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Pat the Cope Gallagher, Ireland’s minister of state for transportation, also spoke at the breakfast saying that the talks between the two Irelands, which had just taken place in St. Andrews, Scotland, appeared to provide “stable power sharing” on the island.

Mr. Gallagher said that the agreement underscored respect for the principle that “peace and prosperity go hand-in-hand,” and supported the police and criminal justice system in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Perdue referred lightly to the religious strife in Northern Ireland by saying that while he looked forward to the trip he had been counseled to say, if asked what was his religion, “I’m an atheist, thank God.”

He added that he was going to visit Ireland and Northern Ireland first on his European tour because they provided “the front door to the European Union” and that “with permanent peace comes permanent prosperity.”

He also pointed to their similarities to Georgia with their pro-business biases and several budding economic sectors including telecommunications and life sciences.

Both Mr. Perdue and Mr. Gallagher cited the importance of the Georgia Institute of Technology’s decision to open an applied research and development center in Athlone, Ireland.

Citing Ireland’s economic achievement as a “Celtic Tiger,” Mr. Gallagher also said that his country was “not resting on its economic laurels” and looked forward to promoting even closer business ties with Georgia.

Story Contacts, Links and Related Stories
Irish Chamber of Commerce USA – Atlanta

Kevin Conboy, president

Jim Gaffey, executive director