Patriotism in the air as chamber marks Independence Day
THEIR compatriots at home had a day off work to celebrate Independence Day but Ireland's cohort of top US managers came together for their annual jolly in Dublin.
The atmosphere at Dublin's Four Seasons Hotel was thick with patriotism as more than 400 guests from Ireland's biggest US-owned companies celebrated July 4.
Lunch was hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland, and kicked off by president Peter Keegan with a rousing speech. "This is a country that has taken the hard decisions," he said, quoting a recent visitor to Ireland, Maryland governor Martin O'Malley.
The annual celebration is a flagship event for the chamber. Attendees included senior executives from the likes of Wells Fargo, IBM, Microsoft, HP and Pfizer, who dined on veal terrine and beef tenderloin, and toasted with a full-bodied Argentinian merlot.
They had a lot to celebrate: US companies employ a staggering 115,000 people here, contributing about €3bn in Irish corporation taxes in 2012 alone and another €13bn to the economy in wages and other expenditure.
As the representative body for these companies, the chamber clearly carries political weight.
"We're consulting with Government on a review of the pensions tax and a review of the Industrial Relations Act, as well as on processing times for visas and work permits," said chief executive Joanne Richardson, the former manager of Delta Airlines in Ireland.
It's also finalising its Budget 2014 submission.
Guests were treated to an after-lunch speech by Cork-born musician and broadcaster Phillip King, who spoke about his first memories of America and the unbreakable link between Ireland and the US.
He began by addressing his audience in Irish and concluded with a haunting a-cappella rendition of The Higgins' 'Carry My Blues Away', before wishing the US at large a very happy birthday.