For St. Patrick's Day 2017, the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald visited California, meeting the Irish community in San Diego, Sacramento, Silicon Valley and San Francisco from 10 - 17 March 2017.
Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald recently visited California to mark St. Patrick's Day 2017 travelling to San Diego, Sacramento, Silicon Valley and San Francisco. California, particularly the San Francisco Bay Area, is home to the largest concentration of Irish-born and Irish-American populations on the west coast.
Economically, California is Ireland's largest trade and investment partner in the US. During her visit, the Tánaiste met with locally based Irish entrepreneurs and business leaders in California and visited Voxpro's operation in Sacramento - the largest inward investment by an Irish company into California in recent times. The Tanaiste also visited Apple, Facebook and Google.
At the Silicon Valley 50 Awards, the Tánaiste said:
"Ties of blood have been reinforced by ties of commerce. Californian companies are the major investors in the Irish economy. Californian products find a ready market in Ireland; while Irish business have significantly expanded their west coast connections, creating jobs and sharing knowledge."
The trip was also an opportunity to promote tourism to Ireland. As recently as 2013, there were no direct flights between Ireland and the West Coast and now there are four options with Aer Lingus, Ethiopian Airlines and Air Canada.
There was a strong community element to the Minister's programme throughout her time in California. The Tánaiste was delighted to feature as the Executive Grand Marshall of the San Diego St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which this year celebrated the role of women in Ireland’s history. She met with a broad range of the Irish diaspora on the West Coast, notably including Ireland's newest boxing star Jason Quigley and representatives of the US Women's Rugby team at an Irish Community luncheon in San Diego, with young Irish business leaders at an Irish Network Bay Area gathering and IDA reception in San Francisco, and with leading tech professionals at the Irish Technology and Leadership Group's Silicon Valley 50 Awards. The Tánaiste's programme finished with a visit to the United Irish Cultural Center in San Francisco, where she offered her strong support for the Center's revitalization efforts.
On immigration, the Tánaiste met with our two immigrant support partners, Irish Outreach in San Diego and the Irish Immigration and Pastoral Center in San Francisco to discuss the current situation on immigration and on the steps being taken in support of our citizens, including our undocumented in the United States.
In response to the Berkeley tragedy of June 2015, the Tánaiste met with the Donohoe family and had an opportunity to thank key members of the state legislature and state officials who assisted in the adoption of new legislation to change the State's building code.
The Tánaiste was also delighted to be present for the adoption of a proclamation by the California State Assembly to celebrate California's Irish heritage and meet with the members of its Irish Caucus, including Kevin Mullin and Bill Brough, and looked forward to the visit of the Caucus to Ireland in August. While in Sacramento the Tánaiste also met with two of California's most important leaders, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, of Irish ancestry, and State Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
Consul General Philip Grant and the Consulate staff would like to thank everyone across California for their hospitality and enthusiasm, and helping to ensure that the visit was such a success.