Irish Network Colorado (INCO) hosted another popular luncheon on April 5th
The guest speaker was Jim Lyons whose presentation was entitled
“Where Peace Meets the Streets.”
Mr. Lyons detailed the role of economic and community development in Northern Ireland in support of the peace process, the Good Friday Agreement and its aftermath.
Jim Lyons, Honorary Consul of Denver, is a prominent local attorney and a partner in the law firm of Rothgerber, Johnson & Lyons LLP. In 1993, Mr. Lyons accepted a Presidential appointment by former President Bill Clinton to serve as a US Observer to the International Fund for Ireland (IFI). The IFI is an independent international organization established to promote economic and social advancement while encouraging reconciliation between nationalists and unionists throughout Ireland.
Any topic on peace in Northern Ireland is bound to generate a wide range of interest, and Mr. Lyons did not disappoint the audience at Strings. He chronicled the role of economic and community development in Northern Ireland, and he spoke passionately about how the IFI worked at the local level in Northern Ireland across the sectarian divide. One initiative was the creation of Aspire, a micro loan fund established to help local entrepreneurs secure loans for new business creation. The relationships forged between local banks and the community helped to create a partnership that did not previously exist which in turn helped to foster trust across the political divide. The IFI is responsible for the creation of over 31,000 full-time permanent jobs in Northern Ireland and the border counties of the Republic of Ireland.
Mr. Lyons also spoke about the current revitalization efforts taking place in Belfast including the opening of Titanic Belfast, an interactive Museum that has opened in time for the 100th anniversary of the birth of the world’s most famous ship. The Front Street shipyard area is undergoing an extensive makeover, which will help to spur future economic growth.
Attendees at the presentation ranged from members of the local Denver business community, to former residents of Northern Ireland and the Republic including a family from County Monaghan who was vacationing in Denver. Kathy Lingo, a partner in Denver-based Avenue L Architects commented that the presentation was “really inspiring.” INCO member, Lisa Switzer, said, “Hearing Jim speak about his personal and professional commitment to the peace process in Northern Ireland was very powerful.”
Jim Lyons has served as a Special Advisor to the President and Secretary of State for Economic Initiatives in Ireland and Northern Ireland from1996 thru 2001. He has also worked in support of business-to-business relationships between Belfast-based and Denver-based companies, particularly in the technology and bio-medical sectors.
The Irish Network also had two other successful events in April, which included a night of Irish storytelling and song at the Irish Snug. Three Irish performers put on a great performance for an audience of over one hundred people. The INCO Education Series continued its success as well with CSU Professor Dr. Mark Lee speaking about the importance of Social Media and how to implement it in business. “We have been very lucky to have some great performers and speakers at our events,” said Adam O’Leary, INCO Marketing Chairman. “We have some other great events coming up as well, so we hope to continue to put on events that people enjoy and find enriching.”