Ahern Hails BC-Ireland Connection as Irish Institute is Launched

(12-16-97) -- Praising Boston College's relationship with his country as "a connection we're very proud of," Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, TD, marked the inauguration of the Irish Institute at a ceremony today in Burns Library.

University President William P. Leahy, SJ, also spoke at the event, which drew over 200 members and guests of the University community.

Ahern and Fr. Leahy described the institute, formerly known as the Center for Irish Management, as representing a new direction in Boston College's efforts to promote peace and economic development throughout Ireland. While the institute continues offering its highly acclaimed management programs to Irish business and community representatives, it has added components in areas such as education and political leadership.

"The establishment of the Irish Institute as a successor to the Center for Irish Management is an excellent extension of the relationship between the College and the country," Ahern said. "The work at the center, under its director Sean Rowland, has made a very valuable contribution to peace and economic development in Ireland."

Fr. Leahy said the institute also will help coordinate special events and lecture series, including a conference on education technology co-sponsored by Boston College and IBM that will take place in Ireland in February.

The institute will work as a partner with the Irish Studies Program, Fr. Leahy said, "in continuing to strengthen the leadership role Boston College plays as the leading American university in Ireland."

Ahern, who had visited the campus earlier this year, thanked Boston College for its strong interest and involvement in Irish affairs and culture. He pointed to the Irish Studies Program, the recent McMullen Museum of Art's "Re/Dressing Cathleen" exhibition, and the work of Prof. Emeritus Thomas O'Connor (History) on the Boston Irish, as examples of how the University reaffirms its long-held ties with Ireland.

"I make wish that everyone concerned with the Irish Institute, and all Irish activities at Boston College, every success in the future," said Ahern. "You can be assured of the Irish government's strong support in every way that we possibly can."

The Irish Institute works closely with government agencies in the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland, the Ireland Funds, International Fund for Ireland and Irish American Partnership.

Irish Institute programs combine classroom sessions led by University faculty with on-site visits to area businesses and other organizations. These programs have been geared to senior-level executives, small business managers, community project leaders and local government leaders. This fall, the institute hosted 18 women business executives from Northern and southern Ireland, and 12 executives from small and medium-sized businesses and community enterprises as the first participants in the center's Ron Brown Business Development Program.

Ahern recalled his visit earlier this year to the institute's Dublin office, where he met participants in the Brown program. He called the program "a fitting tribute" to Brown, who had actively supported Irish-American partnerships.

Among the institute's newer offerings are programs on the policy aspects of corporate child-care, management of state government, and tourism development and marketing. While past programs have utilized Carroll School of Management faculty, institute administrators said recent and future initiatives involve support of faculty and staff campus-wide.

"Corporate child-care involves more than management issues," said Institute Assistant Director Colm O'Comartun in a recent interview. "You're now in a policy-making area, involving political and educational expertise. Similarly, if you deal in state-sponsored tourism - such as a person working in the office of a mayor or governor - your job has political aspects and it requires a unique skill and talent.

"As the Irish Institute, we will be able to bring together these elements, sometimes within one program if need be," he added. "Doing so will help us meet, and anticipate, the needs of many potential participant groups in Ireland."

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