A member of the Irish Parliament has spent the past five days in Emmetsburg and was the grand marshal of the parade in Des Moines on this St. Patrick’s Day. Ireland’s Prime Minister is in Washington, D.C. and the Deputy Prime Minister’s in China, but Pat Breen told Iowa lawmakers this morning that he’s “the most luckiest politician of them all to be in Iowa where many Irish people have settled over the years,” especially after the potato famine. Breen says Ireland’s changed a lot since those immigrants left for Iowa. For example, Ireland is leading the European Union for the first six months of 2004, holding the E-U’s presidency. Breen says during the Iraq war, there’s been a lot of conflict between European countries, especially Germany and France. Breen says he hopes Ireland’s leaders use the special relationship between Ireland and the U.S. to heal those wounds. He says it’s especially important after the terrorist attack in Madrid last week. Breen says he was glad to spend time in Emmetsburg, Iowa — a town named for the Irish patriot Robert Emmet.Breen says Emmet stood for freedom and equality. Breen says before Emmet’s execution at the age of 25, Emmet said he didn’t want his epitaph to be written until Ireland took its place among the nations. Breen says now that Ireland has a key role in world affairs, Emmet can “rest in peace.” Breen represents the county in Ireland in which the Shannon airport is located, and he expressed hope that U.S. officials would ease regulations so that more U.S. flights could land there. Today, Breen says 44 percent of the Shannon airport’s business comes from and goes to U.S. destinations.
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