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Philip Grant

Consul General, San Francisco

2015 was the most challenging in my 25 years working for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. I watch over the largest of our Consular regions, with a population of over 75 million. It is a region of vital importance to the Irish economy and to job creation.

Our ties with the Western United States have always been close. The Irish played a big part in how the west was won and the Irish are still winning in the west. In 2015, a West Coast company was setting-up or expanding an operation in Ireland once every three weeks. Irish entrepreneurs are making big strides in Silicon Valley, and growing numbers of young Irish are building careers here in some of the world's most innovative and successful companies.

Meeting the investment, trade and tourism targets needed to copper-fasten Ireland's recovery is a collective effort. I work with a great team of colleagues from the IDA, Enterprise Ireland and Tourism Ireland. This was clear in the strength of the business elements in the President's historic visit to California in October and of the two Ministerial programs over St Patrick's Day.

2015 saw many other examples of Irish success and teamwork that I was honoured to contribute to.  In February I was in Los Angeles with the Irish Film Board, promoting Ireland’s Oscar nominated animators and film-makers - presenting our legendary story telling ability in new and innovative ways.  In June, I was invited to march at the head of the San Francisco Pride Parade - the largest celebration of its kind in the world - in recognition of the 'yes' vote in Ireland's marriage equality referendum. In August, I was back in LA to see the awe inspiring achievements of our Special Olympians at the World Games.

Above all else, however, our response to the Berkeley tragedy stands out. I am fortunate to serve my country in a region where the contribution of the Irish is second-to-none. As Berkeley demonstrated, that has not changed. I am grateful to them and all those who reached out to help our students and their families. I am especially grateful to the staff of the Consulate in San Francisco - who are also second-to-none.

For me, 2015 demonstrated the vital importance of the work of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in engaging and empowering our Diaspora and community organisations, so that we can support our citizens when they need us most.