Last week Steve Lenox, President, INUSA, had the opportunity to attend the Global Irish Parliamentarian Forum in Dublin- following are his thoughts on the conference:
It was a pleasure to attend parts of last week’s Global Irish Parliamentarian Forum hosted by the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin.
While I don’t hold public office, getting a chance to speak with elected officials from not only the U.S. but also Canada, UK and Australia gave me even greater insight into the Global Irish which will serve me well with both efforts on behalf of the clients I represent and in my role as President of Irish Network USA.
Of special significance for me was the attendance of two members of the New Jersey Legislature, both of whom I have great respect for. Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo and Assemblyman Tim Eustace took time out of their busy schedules to attend this Forum, not just for the “craic”, but also to be part of the meaningful discussions that took place with their counterparts from across the globe.
What I heard, first during their time speaking on the floor of the Dail, a rare honor accorded to very few foreign elected officials, and then throughout other parts of the program, reminded me again that connecting with each other online is valuable, but there is no substitute for a face to face connection.
In addition to their “Irishness”, all of the participants, regardless of political party, have a passion for the work they do, and put remarkable efforts towards making the communities they serve stronger and even better. From jobs creation to educational opportunities, those in attendance were reminded again that there is much more that unites us than divides us, and often came back to the realization that there is something in their DNA, a passion for helping others, a desire to give just a little bit more, that gives them a particular focus and drive to do their jobs.
The compassion in their hearts, and deep understanding of the suffering of generations past, also brought them back to the current global crisis that is bring us disturbing images of great suffering among Syrian refugees forced to leave their homes in hopes that something better is waiting for them. How can the lessons of the Irish Diaspora be applied to helping these poor families who have lost so much, and likely face years, if not generations, of difficulty in being forced to assimilate into a new culture?
Were all of the problems and issues these lawmakers face on behalf of their constituents solved? Absolutely not. But meaningful conversation leads to meaningful solutions, and all in attendance have returned home, with more than they started with when the gavel was brought down to convene the Forum. Minister Jimmy Deenihan and the Global Irish Unit outdid themselves again, and deserve great credit for bringing this wonderful event to Dublin.