by Jane Whitmore and Dan Voigt
"Welcome and thank you all for coming out on this bitterly, bitterly cold day," Emmetsburg Mayor Myrna Heddinger told the crowd gathered on the streets of Emmetsburg. "I'd like to extend a warm welcome to all of you and a special warm welcome to Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy and her sister Maria - they are a delight! If you have a chance to be around them, they are the best representation that Ireland could send from their homeland."
Mayor Heddinger presented Deputy Corcoran-Kennedy with a key to the city. "We want you to know that this key represents our welcome to you. Know that you will always be welcome in our city."
BUNDLED UP FOR THE PARADE -- Crowds gathered on the streets of Emmetsburg for the annual St. Patrick’s Parade on Saturday. Children scrambled to gather candy tossed out by groups parading through town. Temperatures were in the mid-20s, with single digit wind chill, so everyone was bundled up to face the cold north winds. Everyone was out to enjoy the parade as it went from south to north on Broadway. --Jane Whitmore photo
"Thank you so much,"?Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy replied. "I want to take a few moments to thank you so much for the sincere and warm welcome I've received and on behalf of my sister and myself to join with you on this wonderful celebration of St, Patrick's Day. I wish all of you a very Happy St. Patrick's Day and hope that you all might be able at some point to come over and visit us in Ireland. We'd love to extend a warm Cead Mile Failte (100,000 Welcomes) to you all."
Dignitaries and guests huddled together on the reviewing stand to view the annual St. Patrick's Parade in Emmetsburg. Temperatures were in the mid-20s, with northwest winds making the wind chill value a single digit. The crowds on the street delighted in the parade of over 150 units. Once again, it was a great day for the Irish.
Deputy Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy, TD, arrived in Iowa last Tuesday. She addressed the House and Senate at the Iowa Statehouse before coming to Emmetsburg on Wednesday. Deputy Corcoran-Kennedy is a member of the Irish Parliament from the Fine Gael party.
"It was such an honor to be at the Iowa Legislature and to meet with Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds," she said.
Preparing to come to Emmetsburg, Marcella found many similarities. The population of Emmetsburg is 4,000 and the town where Marcella's office is in has a population of 4,000. The state of Iowa has about three million people and the country of Ireland has about three and a half million people. Marcella's office in Birr is located on Emmet Street and Emmet Square is "just down the road."Agriculture is a primary industry in the Emmetsburg area as well as in Ireland.
"Wind energy is becoming a part of our policy for energy security and I saw all of the turbines on the way to Emmetsburg. It's really interesting to see," she said. "We are building huge wind farms in my area that will be providing energy into England. There are two or three energy companies that will be vying for the opportunity to do this. There's big competition going on and they're buying up options with local farmers. That's all very new to us, so it's really interesting to see what's going on here. We would like to get some type of manufacturing, which would be fantastic for our area. If they could manufacture some components it would be good for job creation."
Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy was elected to Dail Eireann in February 2011. She is a member of the largest government party, the Fine Gael which is in partnership with Labor delegation.
"We inherited a party that was in very poor shape," she said. "We had to make some very tough decisions."
In deep financial straights, the struggling country was forced to borrow funds from the IMF at low interest.
"We're in a bailout situation with them at the moment, but we're doing very well. We've made a lot of changes in how we're spending our taxes. We're hoping to exit the bailout this year, so we won't have to go back for more."
Talking about the economy in Ireland, Marcella said, "We've had to stabilize the economy and send a positive message about the country that we're still open for business and want to be the best little country to do business in."
She noted that jobs have stabilized, "But we still have far too many people unemployed. We're focusing on job creation this year."
Marcella said that many young people are relocating to other countries, including America, Australia and New Zealand.
"Australia is the location where most of them are going," said Marcella. "Some of the countries have employment fairs, giving information on the type of people that they want, the skills that they need."
Young people from Ireland are making short term plans, going away for a short time, earning some money and returning to Ireland.
"We have a problem, I suppose, that we have a moratorium on recruiting into our public service," said Marcella. "A lot of young people that would have hoped to get into health service can't, so that's an issue for them."
She added, "We're focusing on unemployment this year. We're hoping that each government department will come up with a plan to create some jobs."
There are some big companies based out of Dublin.
"We've created a lot of new jobs. The condition is right for them; it's slow but sure," she said. "It took a long time to bring it to the awful condition we're in, so it's going to take a long time to make it better."
Marcella is a member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Environment, Transport, Culture and Gaeltacht. She was also selected as a member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Defence.
Marcella and her sister, Maria, visited schools and toured businesses and industry during their time in Emmetsburg. Residents of the community gave them a big Irish welcome.