Agreement with Chinese economic area due to be signed in April

AN agreement with a Chinese economic development zone is due to be signed when a Chinese delegation visits Kilkenny on April 2.

AN agreement with a Chinese economic development zone is due to be signed when a Chinese delegation visits Kilkenny on April 2.

A “memorandum” has been drafted to link Kilkenny with the Suzhou zone in a twinning arrangement to promote areas of economics, culture, health care, sports and more.

When the memorandum was outlined at Monday’s meeting of Kilkenny County Council, Cllr Tom Maher (FG) called it a “huge vote of confidence in Kilkenny” that “opens huge avenues for us” and he said the council should “take full advantage of the opportunities that are presented to us.”

With Kilkenny due to be twinned with the growing economic zone, the council is preparing to hold an introductory course on Chinese culture and doing business in China.

The part-time course of about an hour over a number of weeks will be held in County Hall, or in a local hotel if there is great enough demand, county manager Joe Crockett said. (Anyone wanting to participate can contact Aisling Hayes, the council’s Business Unit Manager, at aisling.hayes@kilkennycoco.ie.)

Human rights

Cllr Betty Manning (FG) said she was “happy that we should sign this memorandum” and said she was “trying to be positive about it.”

She said that the more China opens up to the West, “the greater the chances are” for improvements in the country’s records on human rights and the environment.

She said her hope was that “something good comes out of this not just for ourselves and our economy” and that there would be something positive for both sides as “we will have a great influence on them on how they treat people and the environment.”

The sentiments were echoed by several other councillors, but chairman Paul Cuddihy (FG) added that “in this country we also have a lot to be humble about,” including an environmental record that “has been nothing short of a disgrace,” including widespread illegal dumping.

Regarding human rights, he pointed to the 3,000 deaths during the Troubles, institutional abuse of children, and women’s rights. “We have problems in our own country that we also need to look at,” he said.