Category: Archive

Irish American of the Year

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Quinn is the second Irish American to be awarded the honor since its inception twelve months ago. She succeeds U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who has been making headlines anew in recent weeks by virtue of his prosecution of the governor of Illinois.
Christine Quinn is not required to file charges against people in the course of her daily work, but she is required to take charge of a seemingly endless list of issues and concerns that come before New York’s city council.
In doing so she has demonstrated a consistent ability to deal with issues, many of them complex and not given to easy resolution, while at the same time maintaining a pace of work that would leave many breathless.
As a result, Quinn’s has become a most recognizable political face in a city of eight million, second only perhaps to that of Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Quinn is also familiar to people in Ireland. She has visited the land of her ancestors on more than one occasion, most recently in the spring of this year for the Northern Ireland investment conference, and has taken her message of inclusiveness, New York style, to all political corners of Northern Ireland.
In a visit she herself led to the North last year, Quinn said she wanted to see Belfast become an “international” and “world-class” place to do business.
Quinn was speaking during a five day mission designed to explore investment opportunities. She spoke at the time of how New York wants to be a partner in helping the Northern Ireland economy “take off.”
“The people of New York have a tremendous amount of identification with Ireland,” said Quinn.
“Everyone feels Irish. People feel a connection and a debt because Irish immigrants built New York.
“The feeling in New York about Northern Ireland is that everyone is now pulling for peace. People are excited at the political breakthrough. We are looking at Northern Ireland and saying that if people who were at odds with each other for such a long time can sit down and govern, then nothing is too big.
“Northern Ireland can learn from New York’s example and become a world-class place to do business,” she said.
“All four wheels are on the road. And now you have that you can accelerate at whatever pace suits.”
During her late 2007 North visit, Quinn took a particular interest in the teaching of Irish in schools.
“I visited an Irish-speaking school in West Belfast. It was fantastic,” she told the Echo.
Quinn, who is 42, has been a strong advocate for a truth commission in Northern Ireland and has been a consistent supporter of the MacBride Principles on fair employment, guidelines that require U.S. companies doing business in Northern Ireland promote equal religious and community representation.
She has been adamant that any investment going to the North from New York should be equally distributed, and monitored closely to ensure it is used appropriately.
Quinn’s first visit to Northern Ireland was back in 2002 when she and a delegation from New York City Council turned up only to discover that the Northern Ireland Assembly had been shut down and some of its staff members arrested.
That visit did, however, provide Quinn with an opportunity to meet with the leading players in the still evolving peace process at the time, including, to her surprise, Ian Paisley.
“When we do one of these trips, we always reach out to Sinn F

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