A DELEGATION including County Council chairwoman Marie Fitzpatrick and county manager Joe Crockett is due to travel to China in September to strengthen ties with Suzhou, the area with which Kilkenny is now twinned.
The “mini trade mission” is also set to include representatives from Kilkenny companies that are doing business with China.
A film crew from the Xinhua news agency is preparing to pave the way for the visit by filming Kilkenny companies Connolly’s Red Mills, Goresbridge Horse Sales, Glanbia, Connect Ireland, Keenan’s Technology and Nicholas Mosse Pottery, according to Mr Crockett. They were due to visit yesterday (Tuesday) and today, but that was postponed due to a last-minute change, the council was told on Monday.
In seeking members’ support for the trip, Mr Crockett said: “Suzhou is one of the most active places for economic development in the world. It is also a place where the Chinese government is involved in trying new things.”
He warned, however, that creating strong ties with China would take time. “It is going to take a long time for these connections to bear fruit,” he said. “It is about changing the big picture; it is not about quick wins.”
Members were mostly supportive of the trip, with Cllr Andrew McGuinness (FF) saying that “a lot of positive possibilities that could develop from this.”
Cllr Malcolm Noonan (Greens) expressed concerns about China’s human rights and environmental record, however, and he voted against sending the delegation there.