By Ray O’Hanlon
New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey is heading for Ireland this weekend for a visit that will take him to both sides of the border.
McGreevey, who will depart Newark for Dublin on Saturday, July 13, is leading an official New Jersey state trade and investment delegation.
McGreevey promised to work toward enhanced business ties between Ireland and the Garden State following election to his first term last November.
Those ties are already well advanced.
The Republic of Ireland alone currently ranks as New Jersey’s 16th largest trading partner.
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Coincidentally, if it was an independent nation, New Jersey would rank as the 16th largest economy in the world.
Gov. McGreevey will be visiting Dublin, Galway, Belfast and Newry, Co. Down, during his weeklong visit.
His Irish family roots are in nearby Banbridge and the governor will be taking time out to visit relatives in the area.
McGreevey’s engagement list is extensive. As well as meeting with representatives of New Jersey companies doing business in Ireland, the governor will also meet with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, the foreign affairs minister, Brian Cowen, and U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Richard Egan.
North of the border, McGreevey is expected to meet with a number of leading industrial and political figures, including Sinn FTin’s mayor of Belfast, Alex Maskey, SDLP leader Mark Durkan, and Ulster Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble.
During his stopover in Belfast, McGreevey will also take the Troubles bus tour of the west and north of the city.
He will return to the U.S. July 21.