Robinson and McGuinness Make Connections in Japan


First Minister the Rt. Hon. Peter D. Robinson MLA and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MLA have attended an event hosted by Northern Irish Connections as part of their visit to Japan.

Northern Irish Connections is a not for profit virtual organisation set up to develop and grow the support of people with a connection to Northern Ireland by birth, family, education or business.

The event followed a series of business meetings with Japanese companies, including a visit to Terumo, which announced a 400 job expansion at its Larne base during the G8 Summit in June and Ryobi Aluminum Castings which employs almost 300 staff at its only European plant in Carrickfergus.

The First Minister Peter Robinson said: “The Northern Ireland Executive has placed economic growth at the centre of the Programme for Government. We have many excellent businesses in Northern Ireland, but we want to develop further by expanding our overseas markets. One of our greatest exports has been our people and many from Northern Ireland have been attracted to Japan by the lure of working with some of the world’s most dynamic organisations.

“Tonight’s event offered us an opportunity to re-connect with our relatives and friends from Northern Ireland, to explain why this linkage is important to us, and to provide a sense of how they might be able to help us in return. The power of their knowledge, experience and networking abilities is colossal and that potential has not escaped our notice.

‘Northern Irish Connections’ enable us to engage directly with the Northern Ireland Diaspora, drawing strength from the influence, knowledge and networks they possess. We want to create a network of advocates that can talk about, and help promote, the good work happening back home and we are also looking for their advice on how we might learn from best practice in Japan, to help grow our own economy.”

The deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said: “We were honoured to be invited to visit Japan by Prime Minister Abe when we met during the G8 Conference. Over the last number of years we have been working hard to raise the international profile of our businesses, our skills, our products and our people.

“We have identified overseas markets as a catalyst for growth and people from the north of Ireland living in Japan can assist us in achieving this. The Diaspora are living proof of our talented and entrepreneurial population and a product of our first rate education system. We want to learn from our shared experiences, and the Connections initiative in Japan will enable us to maintain contact and develop mutually beneficial links.

“Tonight provided a platform, to ask for support and to tap into the existing expertise to help make a difference at home. We need advocates from the grassroots global Irish community to play their part and Connections is a vehicle for doing that. We want to ensure the relationship is mutually beneficial and as representatives for the north of Ireland you can be active players enhancing our profile across the globe.”