Irish Republic President Mary Robinson, during a four-day Atlanta visit, touted the easing of tensions in Northern Ireland as well as her country’s new economic and cultural activities

Mrs. Robinson said that Ireland was actively seeking foreign investment to provide opportunities for its youth, which in many cases have left the country for other countries in search of work.  She also supported investment in British-ruled Northern Ireland now that a peace process is underway, and communities which have been embattled by guerrilla warfare are returning tentatively to normality.

 Citing First Data Corp. of Atlanta and Riverside Manufacturing Corp. of Moultrie, among other larger multinational companies such as the Coca-Cola Company and Delta Air Lines, with operations in Ireland, she added that the “potential” for new business alliances is “vast and within reach.”

“Ireland now has a great economic story,” she said, despite its high rate of unemployment, 16%.  She pointed to the 5.5% annual growth rate of its gross domestic product (GDP) and an inflation rate of 2.5%.

She called free trade the “lifeblood” of the country’s economy, amounting to 70% of GDP.  “Four out of five jobs depend on business abroad, so naturally we are in favor of free trade and the extension of free trade areas,” she said during a luncheon hosted by The Irish Trade Board and the state of Georgia.

Mrs. Robinson also attended a breakfast sponsored by the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and the city of Atlanta, and a dinner at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.  In addition, she visited the offices of CNN, the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, the Martin Luther King Center for Nonviolent Social Change, the Carter Center and CARE.

For more information concerning Irish investment and trade, call the Industrial Development Agency of Ireland at (404) 351-8474; fax, (404) 351-8568;  and the Irish Trade Board, at (404) 875-8824; fax, (404) 876-4578.

Jose Novoa, president of Halff Associates, a Dallas-based engineering consulting firm, told a seminar at the annual meeting of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) held in Atlanta in mid-October, that NAFTA’s environmental requirements are scoring some successes in Mexico.

Mr. Novoa, however, reiterated the need for improved enforcement by maintaining that Mexican authorities must impose more rigorous fines and tougher punishments if sufficient compliance to NAFTA is to be achieved.

The ASCE’s official position is more moderate: namely, that impartial environmental policies be enforced in both the U.S. and Mexico.

Mr. Novoa may be reached by calling (214) 739-0094.  The telephone number of Michael Charles,  the ASCE’s manager of regulatory affairs, is (202) 789-2200.               

                        -Gilbert Moore, Jr.