Governor Pat Quinn today welcomed President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins and First Lady Mrs. Sabina Higgins to Illinois. The leaders met to discuss the strong historic and cultural ties between the nations, and about how to further relations between Illinois and Ireland.
"It is an honor to welcome President Michael Higgins and First Lady Mrs. Sabina Higgins to Illinois," Governor Quinn said. "Illinois has been home to millions of Irish descendants including my great-grandfather, and our relations with Ireland have long been based on shared values. The Irish-American community and culture in Illinois is thriving and by working with President Higgins we can ensure a continued strong connection with the Emerald Isle."
Governor Quinn and President Higgins today focused on Illinois and Ireland's long and storied history as well their strong economic ties, agribusiness and cultural offerings. The leaders also discussed the need for federal immigration reform and Illinois' national leadership in supporting all immigrants.
Governor Quinn and President Higgins also discussed their Sister Rivers partnership as well as the Irish water system and canals, which are a major draw for tourists in Ireland. Illinois and Ireland signed a Sister Rivers agreement with the River Lee in 2008.
Both Illinois and Ireland have seen recent reinvigoration in their respective film industries. President Higgins served as Ireland's first Minister for Arts and has been widely recognized for laying the foundation for country's film and television industry to grow both efficiently and creatively. Under Governor Quinn, Illinois' film industry has set new records, generating over $350 million in economic activity.