Assemblyman Michael Kearns said it was an honor to have Peter Ryan, Deputy Consul General of Ireland, in his office on Monday to discuss sister city relations with Ireland and Western New York.

“We have to get Upstate New York, Western New York, and Buffalo better known to Ireland. We have a lot to offer, we have a lot that we can partner in and I think any type of relationship begins with a handshake and friendship and that’s what we are looking to do through sister cities,” said Kearns.

Kearns and Louise Simon Schoene, NYS Coordinator of Sister Cities International, greeted Ryan with Buffalonian gifts to remind him of Western New York.

Among the gifts he received was a book about Buffalo, a sister cities pin, a Buffalo statue, and more. Ryan was elated with his welcome and promised to spread the good word of Buffalo to those in Ireland.

“The warm welcome here reminds me very much of being back home,” said Ryan. “It’s more important than ever that we reach out to our wonderful Irish American community to try to understand them a little bit better and listen to them a little bit more. And as well as having these ties of heritage and culture with our Irish dancing and our parades and sports, let’s see if we can do business together because who better to tell us how to do business in the United States than Irish Americans?”

Ryan’s mission with the Consulate General of Ireland was to create an Irish network called Irish Network Buffalo (IN-Buffalo). The goal of the network, which launched Wednesday, is to make connections with Irish and Irish American professionals and let people know that there is a commonality.

“Buffalo is a very unique place because of the links with Ireland historically, which includes the invasion of another country. Every Irish child learns about

Buffalo because it is part of our history,” said Ryan.

The meeting also emphasized the importance of educating those in Ireland about Western New York. New York State is ranked number two for international students and having Ireland students come to Buffalo for internships and studies abroad is essential for international relations, tourism, and economic development.

“It helps so many people here and abroad,” said Schoene. “It’s good for the state. It’s good for the community. It’s good for the country and it’s good for the world.”

“Our goal is to attract businesses here and develop some bilateral relationships,” said Kevin Kearns, Vice President for Engagement and Economic Development at SUNY Fredonia. “We want to take advantage of our natural resources and our strategic opportunities to bring in businesses and create jobs. And from a university perspective, we want to try and keep our graduates here contributing to business, to starting new businesses and basically to revitalize the area with the universities anchoring that effort.”

Ryan is hopeful that IN-Buffalo will bring entrepreneurs, successful business people, teachers and community leaders from Ireland to be champions of Buffalo.