WINTER 2018 / VOL. 18 ISSUE 1


News of Ireland 

and of Irish Interest

Mary Lou McDonald succeeds Gerry Adams

Special to the Irish American Post
From Irish American Post news wires, 
including Reuters, The People Post, BBC News and IANS

Mary Lou McDonald will succeed Gerry Adams as head of Sinn Fein the party announced Jan. 20. According to insiders, this completes a generational shift for the nationalist politician group as it considers entering government on both sides of the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. 

McDonald, who holds an English degree from Trinity College Dublin, was the only Sinn Fein lawmaker to seek the position. A special confirmation conference will be held Feb. 10.

In November, Adams announced he was retiring as president of Sinn Fein. The organization was once the political arm of the Irish Republican Army.

Addressing Sein Fein’s annual conference last year, Adams emphasized it would his last year as its leader and that he would seek to be not be a future candidate in any subsequent elections.

In his speech then, the 69-year-old Adams acknowledged that "leadership means knowing when it is time for change," saying "that time is now" and that he was a team player and a team builder. He is a member of the Irish Parliament for Louth County and has been the president of Sinn Fein since 1983. 

When McDonald assumes her new leadership role, it means that the left-wing party will be led on both sides of the border by women in their 40s. Michelle O’Neill succeeded Martin McGuinness as Northern Ireland party leader just before his death in March, 2017. 

O’Neill was born in 1977 in Tyrone County of noted nationalist Republicans. In fact, her father Brendan Doris was an IRA prisoner before becoming a Sinn Fein councilor from Dungannon.

Sinn Fein has shared power in the North since 2007 but it has never governed in the Republic although it has grown to be that country’s third largest party behind Fine Gael and Fianna Fail parties. 

Belfast Plans More Green Jollies for St. Pat’s Day Festivities 

By Michael McHugh, Press Association 

22 January, 2018 15:17 

Belfast's St Patrick's Day festival should become a three-day weekend event to rival some of the world's largest cities, a report from Féile an Phobail said.

The West Belfast community organization criticized what it called a lack of ambition in the current offering, and said Irish talent like Snow Patrol or Ash should replace X Factor concert performances.

A new Irish Food and Drink Festival at St George's Market would run alongside as Belfast learns from cities like New York, Dublin and Birmingham, the review published by Belfast City Council said.

The Féile report said: "The research would suggest that Belfast currently lacks ambition with its St Patrick's Day celebrations, and through partnership work, and increased investment, Belfast could go on to rival some of the largest cities in the world with a new, ambitious and an economically-driven St Patrick's Day Festival."

The report was prepared by the group which organizes the annual Feile an Phobail event in west Belfast.

It highlighted the numbers of visitors attending St Patrick's Day parades in Dublin and New York and the amount of public investment in those events.

The review said the economic benefits from Belfast's parade, concert and associated festivities were beyond doubt, as the city fills with visitors every year.

But it suggested expanding the celebrations to encourage the night time economy and produce more extended or overnight stays in the city.

It called for greater emphasis on music and dance, St Patrick's Day-themed tours and more performance art alongside concerts and parades.

The report added: "There is a feeling, however, that more can be done to make the experience authentic, especially the concert at Customs House Square.

"There is a preference for current Irish bands such as Picture This, Snow Patrol, etc ... this type of act would be more authentic than the X Factor performers that come across to perform.

"The parade could possibly be themed and participants could be challenged to come up with their interpretation of that theme on an annual basis."

Last year unionist and Sinn Féin councillors clashed over proposals to develop St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast.

The PUP's John Kyle said often the event was a "cold house" for unionists.

Irish Tourism News

Tourism Ireland Launches 2018 Marketing Plans 

Tourism Ireland in the United States launched its marketing plans for Jan.18 at an event in New York attended by leading tour operators, travel agents and journalists from the tri-State area. 

The organization aims to surpass the record-breaking performance of 2017 and to grow revenue from North American visitors by +7% in 2018 i.e. €1.78 billion generated by 1.93 million visitors (+5%). 

Tourism Ireland will prioritize North America once again in 2018, as a market which offers a strong return on investment, in terms of holiday visitors and expenditure. Speakers at the marketing launch party emphasized that important ‘culturally curious’ and ‘social energizer’ audiences will be targeted with distinctive vacation experiences, events and special offers tailored to their interests. 

Tourism Ireland’s extensive program of targeted activity for 2018 is already under way in the US. A major TV campaign is running on ABC, NBC, and CBS in five priority markets: New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington DC. The TV campaign is complemented by extensive digital advertising and social media activity, specially designed to stimulate spring and summer travel. 

Tourism officials pointed out that the outlook for 2018 is positive, with a number of factors working in Ireland’s favor – including more airline seats between North America and Ireland (64,000 seats weekly from 21 gateways), with a number of new flights and expanded services in the pipeline for this year – including new Aer Lingus flights from Seattle and Philadelphia to Dublin.

Alison Metcalfe, Tourism Ireland’s Head of North America, spoke at the launch, saying, "In 2017, we welcomed a record 1.83 million North American visitors to the island of Ireland. Looking to the year ahead, we are confident that our strategy – combined with more airline seats than ever before from the US, a strong dollar, as well as the strength and competitiveness of the vacation experience right around the island of Ireland – will deliver further growth." She added, "We look forward to welcoming more of our great friends from the United States this year and in the years to come."

According to Metcalfe, Tourism Ireland has a clear focus for the year ahead, one that aims to deliver a +5% increase in visitor numbers and +7% increase in revenue from North America. "We will achieve this by working in close collaboration with our Irish and American tourism partners, rolling out an extensive program of high impact campaigns and promotions which will target those consumers with greatest potential to travel to Ireland," she indicated

In 2017, 1.83 million Americans and Canadians visited Ireland (up +16.7% on 2016), delivering revenue of €1.67 billion for the economy (+14.5% on 2016). IThe tourism officials said that in 2018, Tourism Ireland will create ‘stand out’ for the island of Ireland in the US, highlighting experiences like the Wild Atlantic Way, the Causeway Coastal Route, Ireland’s Ancient East, Belfast and Dublin. Screen tourism will also remain a priority, as the organization continues to capitalize on its connections with Star Wars and Game of Thrones. Promotions will grow travel to the regions of Ireland, during the shoulder and off-peak seasons.

Irish Tourism Facts:

Tourism Ireland is the organiztion responsible for promoting the island of Ireland overseas as a leading holiday destination.

Tourism is the island of Ireland’s largest indigenous industry; responsible for in excess of 4% of GNP in the Republic of Ireland and employing approximately 281,000 people across the island.

In 2017, Ireland welcomed approximately 10.65 million overseas visitors to the island of Ireland, delivering revenue of about €5.78 billion.

Tourism Ireland’s international website is, 29 market sites available in 11 language versions around the world, which attracted around 19.3 million visitors in 2017.


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