December January 2018 Issue – Irish America https://irishamerica.com Irish America Magazine Mon, 22 Jul 2019 14:31:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.10 82361074 The American Dreamer https://irishamerica.com/2017/12/the-american-dreamer/ https://irishamerica.com/2017/12/the-american-dreamer/#comments Fri, 01 Dec 2017 06:59:37 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=33382 Read more..]]> With tenacity, focus, a lot of hard work, and an ability to inspire others to dream big, Bill McDermott rose to the top job at SAP. But, never one to rest on his laurels, he is always on to the next achievement. Could he be a future President? 

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B ill McDermott’s expansive Manhattan office, overlooking the Hudson River, is just a short train ride from the Queens neighborhood where he was born, but it’s a world away. The décor is simple, a desk, a couch, some chairs, a flat screen television tuned to a news channel, sound muted. There is sophistication in simplicity McDermott has said, and his office is all that.

The man himself is immaculate. Beautifully groomed and impeccably dressed, McDermott looks like he stepped off the cover of GQ. He’s a youthful 56 years old and he’s all boyish charm. But the most striking thing about the CEO of SAP is his vitality. When he enters a room, the needle flies on the energy amp. He is quick to shake hands with the Irish America team and invites us to sit during his photo shoot, but it’s hard to stay seated watching McDermott in action – his energy is that catching.

It’s interesting to watch how McDermott operates. He is 6’2” and trim. He moves with the grace of an athlete and uses his hands a lot. It’s easy to picture him shooting a basketball, or coaching a team from the sidelines as he did when he was still a teenager. “You got this. You’re a pro,” he says to Kit, the photographer, with a trace of that unmistakable Long Island accent that connects McDermott to his working-class roots.

(Photos: Kit DeFever)

A copy of Winners Dream, McDermott’s bestselling book, sits on the coffee table. Part memoir, part leadership strategy, it’s an uplifting story of a working-class kid driven by passion and a refusal to quit, who succeeded against the odds, and is now the CEO of the world’s largest business software company.

McDermott’s first home was a modest apartment in Flushing, Queens. When he was born, his mother, Kathy, was just 18, and his father, Bill, Sr., was 22. The family didn’t have a whole lot of money, but there was a lot of love and his mother was unflaggingly positive. When his baby brother, Jamie, who was born with congenital defects, died at age five, she assuaged her grief by lifting the spirits of her husband and her young sons. “Jamie is your guardian angel now and he’ll always be there protecting you,” she said. “She had an amazing ability to feel blessed instead of cursed,” says McDermott, who dedicated his book to her.

McDermott’s father worked for Con Edison. His young son used to think of him as Spider-Man jumping down into the tunnels “to keep the lights on” when an emergency call came in the middle of the night, and he left for work. Bill, Sr. took every overtime shift that the power company offered. Still, money was always short. Being the oldest, Bill was never shielded from the family’s financial challenges. “I had court side seats to the pressures that come with living paycheck-to-paycheck,” McDermott says. He vowed that his family’s poverty would stop with his generation.

At the 2017 SAP Annual General Meeting of Shareholders, SAP Arena, Mannheim, Germany: (l-r) Rob Enslin, Bernd Leukert, Stefan Ries, Adaire Fox-Martin, Hasso Plattner, Bill McDermott, Jennifer Morgan, Michael Kleinemeier, and Luka Mucic. (Photo: Wolfram Sheible)

His journey to the corner office began at age 11 when he started delivering newspapers in his Amityville, Long Island, neighborhood. He didn’t just toss and go, he got to know his customers and their needs – who wanted the paper behind the screen door, who wanted it wrapped. Early on, he became “keenly aware of the connection between my money and my customers’ happiness.” It remains the modus operandi to his success.

Fast forward to Bill at age 15. He has traded the paper route for a busboy job at an upscale Italian restaurant where he wore a tuxedo – which he actually liked – and a job in the local supermarket. After waiting in a long line to put in his application, he walked up to the manager and stuck out his hand, saying, “Mr. Kelly, I’m Bill McDermott and if you give me this job, I’ll be your best worker.”

So committed was he, that when he slashed his hand with a packing knife while opening boxes, he returned to work from the emergency room. He had 20 stitches in his hand but figured he owed Mr. Kelly 90 more minutes on the clock.

When Bill was 16, he worked in a deli. Within a year he bought the business for $7,000 on a promissory note due in a year. He sealed the deal by telling his lenders, “If I don’t make the payment, you own all the stock.” He talked his suppliers into giving him credit and he attracted young customers with video games, making a deal with the distributor for a 50/50 profit split. Under the 17-year-old’s management, the deli thrived. McDermott paid attention to his customers, remembering their personal stories, asking about their families, delivering to older people, and extending credit to those he knew were living paycheck-to-paycheck. He was still in high school, so his mother, father, brother Kevin, and sister Gennifer, as well as good friends, helped out. And when he enrolled in Dowling College, he scheduled his classes for mid-week so that he would be back at work for the busiest time.

McDermott and Stefan Ries, SAP’s chief human resources officer. (Photo: Courtesy SAP)

After he graduated, McDermott sold the deli. It was, after all, only a means to an end. He paid off his college debts and bought his parents a vacation home in Myrtle Beach with what was left of the profits.

One of McDermott’s deli customers worked for Xerox and told him that the company had the best training program for salesmen. What happened next is brilliantly relayed in Winners Dream, beginning with how, on the day of the interview, Kevin, carried him out of the house because their first floor was flooded and Bill didn’t want to get his suit wet. (Their house, which stood right next to a canal, was often water-logged, despite Kathy McDermott’s devotion to St. Jude, whose statue she would put in the front yard in the hope that he would hold back the flood).

A top salesman by age 21, McDermott was, by 24, managing one of the company’s highest-performing sales teams and soon moved into more senior positions. Another great thing that happened to him at Xerox – it was there he met his future wife, Julie. Today they have two sons, Michael and John.

Had he stayed at Xerox, there is no doubt that he would have become CEO. But after 17 years, he left the company. The world outside was changing, and he felt top management wasn’t changing quickly enough to match the digital age.

He moved on to senior executive roles with Siebel Systems and Gartner before joining SAP in 2002. He quickly turned the flagging business in North America around and took on responsibility for Asia and South America. In 2010, McDermott was named co-CEO, and four years later he was sole CEO, the first American in the role. That same year, he unveiled a digital age strategy to help businesses of all sizes “Run Simple,” which was met with huge success. Today, with the SAP HANA Cloud platform, business applications, and business networks, SAP serves nearly 335,000 customers in 190 countries.

An early photo of McDermott (second from right) with his Xerox sales team. (Photo: Courtesy Bill McDermott)

McDermott now oversees 87,000 SAP employees and never expects more from them than he expects from himself – he leads by example, and inspires others to do the same. He wants to make the world run better and improve peoples’ lives, and has ensured that SAP is a company that values giving back. Employees are encouraged to give a month of service each year to charitable organizations. And SAP technology has saved lives in natural disasters and is helping researchers conquer diseases such as cancer.

A positive attitude, inherited from both parents, has helped McDermott jump over so many hurdles. In his book, he writes of visiting his father in the hospital after he’d been injured on the job. His dad had 60 stitches in his head, but when his son asked how he was doing, he answered with a smile, “Never better.”

It’s the kind of forbearance that Bill exhibited in 2015 when he fell down a flight of stairs at his brother’s house and was badly injured. He managed to crawl to the street to get help, though he couldn’t see through the blood on his face. A shard of glass had pierced his left eye. Despite 12 operations, the eye could not be saved. McDermott pushed himself to get well. “I tell people now, the world will never remember how you fell. But they will never forget how you got back up and kept moving forward,” he said.

Just two months after his accident, a competitor, taking advantage of the crisis, tried to poach on SAP’s turf. In an extraordinary meeting, Bill coached his team from the sidelines and took them to victory.

McDermott’s leadership style has won him accolades from other corporate leaders. In an email to Irish America, Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of GE, expressed his admiration, saying, “Bill McDermott is an energizing and exciting leader who sets a clear vision and executes every day to assure the vision is realized. He is the epitome of a say/do leader.”

Another ringing endorsement came from a former colleague at Xerox. Anne Mulcahy, Xerox’s chairman and CEO from 2001 to 2009, said she was “thrilled” that McDermott was being recognized by the magazine “and proud that we share the same ancestry.”

She continued, “Some leaders are good at delivering business results. Others at inspiring and motivating people; still others at exemplifying the aspirational values of an organization. Bill is one of the rare few who is phenomenal at all three. He always does the right thing. He wouldn’t have it any other way.”

My takeaway from McDermott is that he is a player/coach. He knows how to build a team and lead them to victory. It’s something that’s in his DNA.

Bill McDermott speaks in Croke Park, Dublin, to celebrates 20 years of SAP Labs Ireland. (Photo: Curtis / Design Make Take)

You’ve said that basketball and your parents were the biggest influences in your life. Let’s start with basketball.

In my family, everything was focused on playing hoops, competing, being the best you can. And we love to win. I inherited from my grandfather – who was a Hall of Fame basketball player who gave it to my father, who gave it to me – this passion to perform at your best and there are no excuses. It’s show time, and when it’s show time, you show up.

My dad loved basketball and coached our school team. He taught me that it’s not about winning as an individual, it’s about the team, and that it’s much better to get the assist than the basket. He would channel everything into, “We’re a team. This is the way we play.”

Tell me about your mother.

She really was amazing. She would say, “Bill, the best part of you is you.” She was always encouraging, telling me there was no ceiling on what I could achieve. We’d move from this apartment to that house, to this foreclosure, to this flood and that fire, and through it all she stood so tall with such resolve. Not just resolve, humanity and happiness and joy. She was always there for the underdog. You could say, “As a working class kid in Long Island, weren’t you the underdog?” But there are always people whose circumstances are more challenging than yours. And my mother could find them all. She had such a great heart.

You need a lot of self-confidence to be a good salesman. Where does yours come from?

I was a relatively shy kid, but not so shy that I couldn’t deliver newspapers. I derived tremendous self-confidence from work. I learned that if I am actually in service to you, giving you what you want, you will give me a good tip. It’s the old-school, “I can get anything in this world I want if I help enough other people get what they want.” That became a kind of a force-multiplier in my teens when I came into my own. I give the credit to my mom and dad, definitely my grandfathers – not just my grandfather the basketball player, but also my grandfather the construction engineer. His workshop was organized, everything was precise. His shoes were immaculate, even when he went on a construction site. My dad was a very hard worker. He would get up at 11 o’clock at night to chisel the ice off the car to make it in time for his midnight shift. He would often work two or three shifts to get the overtime. He was a very dedicated dad.

You are also big on giving back, and making it part of the culture of your company. Why?

I believe we have a higher purpose to our vision. Not just because it is the right thing to do but because it’s the smart thing to do. This is a generation that is inspired by purpose, and our purpose is to help the world run better. We look at ways our software can improve peoples’ lives. It could be giving university students access to our software so they can be trained for a better paying job when they come out of school. It could be making the world run better by initiating the uninitiated with a mobile business application.

One of my fun stories is from when I became co-CEO in 2014. I gave a speech in Germany at the CeBIT conference, which is the biggest technology conference there is. It was a packed house and here I was, the American who doesn’t speak German, taking center stage with Chancellor Merkel and other dignitaries. So I brought up a woman named Christina Marole from South Africa because I wanted her to be the story. She has a spaza, a little convenience store, and she used to spent 80 percent of her profits on transportation costs going to get stock on the shelves and replenish inventory. She was losing most of her profits just on that exercise. But the worst part was, her son had to watch the store while she was traveling. With one mobile application, she is now able to augment her supply chain and do things digitally so that suppliers now bring the stuff to her. Not only did her profits go up by 80 percent, but her son was able to finish his education. So the moral of the story is, we are improving people’s lives. And the audience got it and Chancellor Merkel was inspired when she came to the stage. It was a great moment.

Any advice to young people starting out?

You can’t go wrong when you’re being human. You can only go wrong where you are trying to be something you are not or you are working with material that you don’t believe in. Pretty simple.

Do you think robots will replace humans?

The reason why humans still matter and will always matter is because robots and artificial intelligence can’t replace the instinct to do what’s right. To have the judgment in the crucible of the moment where a call has to be made, you have to rely on all of your instincts and all of your skills and all the trust that you built around you to make the right decision. You have to have the judgment to do the right thing.

What’s your greatest gift?

Thank god, of all the things that I am, I feel I am blessed with the emotional intelligence to calm it down when the field is moving real fast and sort it out and make the call. And when you make the call, have a lot of confidence in it. Because a lack of decisiveness only leaves people hovering for a decision and getting frustrated because one isn’t being made. And making a decision based upon outcomes that aren’t tied to the purpose of the company is something that doesn’t work. So, having the purpose, having the emotional intelligence and the team around you to make the judgment call with great confidence and trust, and the belief that you are doing the right thing, is a gift.

You are known for making pageantry and celebration of achievement an important part of your management style. Why?

You don’t play basketball at a high level to get paid. You play to win. You play to be a champion. You don’t go door-to-door in the grueling cold of New York for a paycheck. You do it to be the number one salesman in the world. You don’t trade off a high paying job to manage people to become a leader for the money, you do it because now you think you have a skill that can be transferred, or you can create a collaborative network with these other women and men to make them better than you and that together you can be the best team in the world. Over time, the celebrations really did make a difference. It’s always taking the thing that inspires the human dignity and the human dream to a level of pageantry. Where, for just a moment, you can be the greatest in the world. And that really does matter. Somehow, I don’t think people spend enough time thinking about what it means – even if is just for a moment – to a person to be the greatest in the world at what they do.


Liam Ryan, Managing Director of SAP Labs Ireland, with Bill McDermott at Croke Park in Dublin, celebrating SAP’s 20th anniversary in Ireland. (Photo: Curtis / Design Make Take)
     Ryan says: “Bill McDermott is the most inspirational leader I have ever met. It is a pleasure to be in his company. His primary focus is always on serving the customer and treating everyone he meets with respect and empathy. This is important here as it relates to real people – customers, employees, and those whose lives we are striving to improve. Bill shares so many examples of how innovation is driving change for the better in areas such as healthcare, disaster relief, and environmental impact. Bill’s unerring focus is on leading SAP to help the world run better and improve people’s lives.
     “SAP Labs Ireland celebrated 20 years in Ireland this year. We employ over 2,100 people in Research & Development, Services & Support, and Commercial Support. Colleagues for the SAP Labs here have been to all corners of Africa delivering “train-the-trainer” sessions in coding as part of Africa Code Week, an initiative that this year will have reached 1.3 million children, introducing them to the language of coding. At a local level, our Community Involvement Forum drives fundraising, volunteering projects, and the SAP Foundation helping charities and schools. This year, our Autism@SAP program will celebrate five years in partnership with Specialisterne Ireland, enabling over 100 young people with autism to start roles in Irish industry.
     “A hearty congratulations to you, Bill, from all of us here in Ireland!” 


What’s the best thing about being in the top job?

You can get anything in this life you want if you help enough other people get what they want. The best part of being a leader is that people look to you for the permission to dream and for a clear path to help them to achieve it.

How important is it to you to remember where you came from?

My mom always told me, “Be you – the best part of you is you.” Always remember: how it was in the beginning, it shall be in the end. I’ve learned that the privilege of a lifetime is being yourself. That’s why your winner’s dream is your journey as you strive to be true to who you really are and create a life of authenticity.

What are some of your leadership maxims?

Trust is the ultimate human currency.

Know what you want, then want it more, and then want it more again.

What you focus on in life expands.

Vision is not only what you can see. It’s how you feel and how you make other people feel. It’s about creating a cause, a movement.

Empathy – it’s about coaching people to see the world one engagement at a time through the eyes of the other person. Putting your agenda to the side and reading the room.

How important is the culture of your company – i.e., what sort of behaviors do you cultivate at SAP?

Culture is the difference between a group of people and a team. Together, everyone does achieve more. A great culture challenges people to build bridges rather than silos, to stay curious, and to always keep the promise. We are never done. Intellectual adventure and self-renewal are essential to capturing new frontiers.

What are you looking for in an SAP hire?

There is no room at SAP for small dreams. We want people who see the world’s biggest challenges as the greatest opportunities. We want underdogs who never take anything for granted. We want people who confront every challenge with their mind, their will, their heart, and their soul.

Best career and life advice you ever received?

“Leadership is the art of developing followership,” from Barry Rand.

Looking back, what was the most crucial decision that you made in terms of your career trajectory?

To go for my dream job at Xerox Corporation.

If you were to pick one thing that was a game-changer for SAP, what would it be?

SAP HANA. Hasso Plattner was the first person in the technology industry to predict that the future of business would be built on real-time data. HANA as the next generation database is the fastest growing product in our history.

How do you stay ahead of the game when everything is changing lightening fast in this digital/technology age?

Design thinking and innovation. We believe that innovation is a constant process built on an outside-in perspective. We have to constantly challenge ourselves in three areas. Desirability – do we have the big ideas that are going to fundamentally change the world?

Feasibility – can we pull this off? If not, what will it take? Viability – do we have the right plan to create value from our ideas.

Having reached the top, how do you stay motivated?

I focus on making the news, not reporting the news. Complexity is ruining companies really fast. Leaders need to stop “playing office,” get out from behind the desk, and understand what’s really happening in the world. Appreciate every conversation – you never know which one will give you the big idea.

If you were to give one piece of advice to young people what would it be?

We believe in our responsibility to help young people build great careers. In terms of advice, I’d offer two suggestions. First, passion and planning can overcome age and experience. Second, excuses never built a single stair step to success.

You have such high energy. Are you naturally that way? Do you just have great physical stamina? And how do you unwind?

I’ve always absorbed energy from the people I have the privilege to meet along the journey. In terms of unwinding, I always enjoy time on the basketball court.

What does your Irish heritage mean to you?

I am very proud of my Irish heritage. I hold up and honor my ancestors who came before me. They gave everything they had to set up a better life for future generations.

Can you talk about the future of SAP?

I always tell my colleagues that there is no ceiling on our dreams for SAP. We want nothing less than to be one of the world’s most interesting and admired companies. We want to be a top-10 brand and to exceed every expectation that is set for us. In the end, none of these aspirations matter as much as our ability to live up the vision we set: to help the world run better and improve people’s lives. If we continue to succeed in this endeavor, we will remain a proud, purpose-driven market leader.

Can you talk about your accident? Did you really have to dig deep for your mother’s positivity to come through on that one?

I remember my mom telling me after a house fire – “There’s nothing inside that house that’s as important as what’s outside of it.” She was a relentless optimist. In my own adversity, I remember thinking that my beautiful family, friends, and colleagues were all counting on me to get up, get out, and get on with it. My indomitable will to rise overruled my rational mind. As I tell people now, the world will never remember how you fell. It will never forget the manner in which you came back and kept moving forward.

Lastly, rumors abound that you will run for political office when your term is up at SAP. Is that a possibility?

I am the CEO of SAP. This is the job I want and the one in which I believe I can make a meaningful difference. I’m more than satisfied to live this journey one fulfilling day at a time.

Thank you, Bill McDermott. Beir Bua. ♦

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2017 Irish America Business 100 Awards https://irishamerica.com/2017/12/2017-irish-america-business-100-awards/ https://irishamerica.com/2017/12/2017-irish-america-business-100-awards/#comments Fri, 01 Dec 2017 06:58:36 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=33537 Read more..]]> Now in its fourth decade, the Irish America Business 100 has a long history of providing recognition to a fundamental core of American business. It can be easy to assume that the Irish in America and their descendants are a monolithic bloc, but as this list has continually shown, there is no single story of Irish American success, interest, venture, or course.

Those we celebrate here come from all aspects of the unique environment of American entrepreneurs, from start-ups that promise to revolutionize overlooked markets to generations-old staples of the American consumer landscape. They are connected by their shared Irish heritage, and motivated by the same sense of immigrant drive, whether it was passed on through their ancestors or, for our Irish-born honorees, compelled them to immigrate to the United States in the first place.

It was not that long ago that the act of hiring an Irish man or woman would have been considered a potentially risky act of diversification. Today, it’s impossible to think of corporate America without the Irish. Our honorees are a testament to the power of new cultures, new people, and new ideas. They are a living tribute to the fact that diversity, in all its forms, is what compels innovation and makes American life better for all Americans. We are honored to do our part to salute that ideal.

Congratulations to all our honorees.

Beir Bua!

Click here to view the complete 2017 list.

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First Word: American Dreamers https://irishamerica.com/2017/12/first-word-american-dreamers/ https://irishamerica.com/2017/12/first-word-american-dreamers/#comments Fri, 01 Dec 2017 06:57:43 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=33542 Read more..]]> “Life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.”

—The definition of the American Dream by James Truslow Adams, 1931

Congratulations to our Business 100 honorees and our Keynote Speaker Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP. You exemplify our cultural heritage and we are thrilled to profile you in this issue, which marks the beginning of our 33rd year in publishing.

Bill McDermott’s story is that of the underdog who dreams big, overcomes all odds, and succeeds and inspires others in the pursuit of their own goals and dreams. His is one of the great stories of the Irish in America, stories that are the heartbeat of this magazine.

Like McDermott, this magazine is a bit of an underdog, too. When we published our first issue at the end of 1985, no one was betting that we would succeed. It was a hard scrabble and fast scramble beginning. We had little money and few resources, but whenever the urge to give up overtook us, a story, lost to history, would make itself known and demand to be heard. The chance to tell it would lift our spirits. One such story, reprinted in this issue, came my way in 1996. It’s of John J. Kiernan, who started life as one of six children born to Irish immigrants in Brooklyn. With just a grade school education, Kiernan built up a successful financial news agency. Each day he would row his skiff out into New York Harbor to collect days-old newspapers from the ships from London and other ports. He’d mine the papers for financial information, which he would sell to his clients. Today his office is the site of the New York Stock Exchange.

And so to our present day, and another inspirational story. Bill McDermott has a vision to make the world run better using SAP software, and is doing just that on a global level.

His colleagues at SAP Labs Ireland have been to all corners of Africa delivering “train-the-trainer” sessions in coding as part of Africa Code Week, an initiative that this year will have reached 1.3 million children introducing them to the language of coding. And another initiative, Autism@SAP program just celebrated five years in partnership with Specialisterne Ireland, enabling over 100 young people with autism start roles in Irish industry.

Ireland is just one small piece of SAP’s global reach, which is now in 190 countries, with 87,000 employees who are encouraged to take paid leave to bring their expertise to charitable organizations.

I met with McDermott in at the end of October at SAP headquarters in New York. His office, on a high floor of the Hudson Yards complex, overlooks New York Harbor, where in the distance, Lady Liberty holds up her lamp against the sky. I think of the many thousands of Irish immigrants including McDermott’s ancestors, who three generations back, made their way into this same harbor.

Says McDermott, “You can never forget where you came from.” His hardscrabble roots inform his every move, and should he need a reminder, he just has to look out the window at the magnificent icon of freedom and hope for so many immigrants.

McDermott is not alone in effecting change. The honorees profiled in the following pages represent some of the most innovative individuals and impactful organizations doing business in the United States and Ireland. From start-ups to long-established entities, they are integral to the global economy, and a testament to the ever-expanding scope of power, and accomplishment of the Irish in America.

We rejoice in your success, and celebrate our shared culture and heritage. You come from a people of great tenacity and will to survive – we are all members of the same tribe. And knowing our history we have empathy for those who are struggling today, whose idea of the American dream is a safe roof over their heads and a chance to educate their kids.

Honoree Kate McCulley put it so well: “As Irish Americans, I believe it is our duty to speak up for the immigrants of today. We must protect the people who came here to create a better life for their families, just as millions of Irish did before them.”

I’m sure I speak for us all when I say that the Irish are also happy to protect those Americans of many races and religions who protected us on our journeys. Let’s raise a glass to a Happy New Year for one and all.

Mórtas Cine. ♦

 

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Gerry Adams Announces Retirement https://irishamerica.com/2017/12/gerry-adams-announces-retirement/ https://irishamerica.com/2017/12/gerry-adams-announces-retirement/#comments Fri, 01 Dec 2017 06:56:20 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=33546 Read more..]]> Gerry Adams, president of Sinn Féin and one of the most formidable figures in Irish nationalist politics for nearly 50 years, announced at the Sinn Féin party conference in November that he plans to retire in 2018, ceding control of the party he has led for 34 years, and making way for a new generation of Irish republicans to come to the fore.

“Leadership means knowing when it is time for change,” he said during a heartfelt speech at the convention in front of a 2,500-person crowd. “That time is now.”

Currently, Sinn Féin is the third-largest party in the Republic of Ireland, and the second-largest in Northern Ireland, and its new president could be poised to make the party’s image even more legitimate and palatable to many who still view it as suspicious, even, possibly, entering government in Dublin for the first time. Speaking to the New York Times, University College Dublin politics professor David Farrell said, “Under a new Sinn Féin leader I think anything is possible.” ♦

 

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LinkedIn Launches New HQ in Ireland https://irishamerica.com/2017/12/linkedin-launches-new-hq-in-ireland/ https://irishamerica.com/2017/12/linkedin-launches-new-hq-in-ireland/#respond Fri, 01 Dec 2017 06:55:03 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=33552 Read more..]]> LinkedIn officially opened its new Europe, Middle East, and Africa headquarters in Dublin in September, revealing a new $100 million premises on the Grand Canal Dock. The headquarters was built to meet the needs of LinkedIn’s growing workforce in Ireland, which has ballooned from three employees in 2010 to 1,200 today. It marks the company’s first new construction outside of the United States.

“A lot of effort has gone into making [the building] look absolutely fabulous,” Lisa Finnegan, LinkedIn’s human resources director, told Silicon Republic. The new offices feature a soundproof music room, gym with personal trainers, and games room, and are energy efficient, with 250 bicycle parking spots and a rainwater-harvesting system.

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New Irish Embassies and Consulates to Open in 2018 https://irishamerica.com/2017/12/new-irish-embassies-and-consulates-to-open-in-2018/ https://irishamerica.com/2017/12/new-irish-embassies-and-consulates-to-open-in-2018/#respond Fri, 01 Dec 2017 06:54:06 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=33555 Read more..]]> In October, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney announced the opening of six new Irish diplomatic missions as part of the government’s 2018 budget package. New embassies in Chile, Colombia, Jordan, and New Zealand will assist in promoting trade and investment. A new consulate in Vancouver, British Columbia, will benefit the Irish diaspora in Canada and improve the already-strong Irish-Canadian relations. And in Mumbai, a new consulate will allow Ireland to engage more thoroughly with the western regions of India. “The announcement of these new Irish embassies and consulates are important first steps in expanding our global footprint and diversifying our trade portfolio as we prepare for Brexit,” Coveney said in a statement at Leinster House.

For 2018, the government also allocated over $834 million to overseas official development assistance. “We will use these additional resources to continue the fight against poverty and hunger, to build on our work delivering sustainable improvements in living standards for some of the world’s poorest people, and in increasing our response to the unprecedented level of humanitarian needs worldwide,” Minister for International Development and the Diaspora Ciaran Cannon said. ♦

 

 

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More than 100 Syrian Refugees at Home in Roscommon https://irishamerica.com/2017/12/more-than-100-syrian-refugees-at-home-in-roscommon/ https://irishamerica.com/2017/12/more-than-100-syrian-refugees-at-home-in-roscommon/#respond Fri, 01 Dec 2017 06:53:19 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=33558 Read more..]]> Ballaghadereen is a small town in County Roscommon of about 2,000 people, and since March, locals have been working hard to welcome more than 100 Syrian refugees living on the grounds of the defunct Abbeyfield Hotel.

Recently, local barbershop owner Sajjad Hussain, who is also involved in the local Islamic Cultural Centre, began by organizing a soccer friendly between arriving Syrian refugees and the existing local Pakistani community. The games are now weekly and the spectators include friends and family of players and local Irish fans.

“It’s not easy sitting in the hotel all day. You think more and more about your past and lots of people have had really hard times in Syria. It’s nice to forget for a little while and be involved in sport and have a laugh and a bit of fun,” he told the Irish Examiner.

“If something doesn’t touch our hearts when all that happens in Syria, we are not human,” local shop owner Mary said in a November TV3/BBC documentary about the community response. The Syrians are part of an Irish government program pledged to host 4,000 refugees by 2019. Last year, Ireland admitted 760 refugees. ♦

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Slane Castle Open for Whiskey Touring https://irishamerica.com/2017/12/slane-castle-open-for-whiskey-touring/ https://irishamerica.com/2017/12/slane-castle-open-for-whiskey-touring/#respond Fri, 01 Dec 2017 06:52:40 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=33562 Read more..]]> After eight years in the making and two years of building and renovations, a new distillery has opened on the historic grounds of the 18th century Slane Castle Estate, 30 miles north of Dublin. Much of the distillery is located in the estate’s Georgian stables, dating to the 1750s, which have been completely retrofitted and are open for tours as well.

The Slane Distillery and Visitors Experience represents the latest expansion of Slane Irish Whiskey, conceived in 2009 by Lord Henry Mount Charles and his son, Alex Conynham, whose family own the estate. Previously, Slane Whiskey aged other manufacturers’ whiskeys, but the new distillery will allow the company to produce their own whiskey, reviving a distilling tradition in the Boyne Valley as old as the castle itself.

“With the opening of Slane Distillery, we aim to restore this legacy for future generations by combining the best of traditional Irish whiskey craftsmanship with progressive process innovation,” Conyngham said. “We are also delighted to be able to open the distillery to visitors where they can see and experience the whole production process for themselves and enjoy a sensory based tasting experience of  Slane  Irish  Whiskey.” ♦   Dave Lewis

 

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Irish Passport Service Wins World Class Civil Service Award https://irishamerica.com/2017/12/irish-passport-service-wins-world-class-civil-service-award/ https://irishamerica.com/2017/12/irish-passport-service-wins-world-class-civil-service-award/#comments Fri, 01 Dec 2017 06:51:56 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=33565 Read more..]]> The Irish Passport Service was recognized for its outstanding achievement with the World Class Civil Service award at the Civil Service Excellence and Innovation Awards at Dublin Castle in November.

The award was made in respect of the Online Passport Renewal Project, which saw launch of the online passport application system in March.

The service means that Irish citizens renewing their passport can do so online anywhere in the world, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week and with no requirement for forms, witnesses, or printed photos. It is one of the first fully online passport renewal services in Europe and since the launch, more than 100,000 citizens have already been issued with passports through the online system. Processing time for an online application is 10 days plus postage time, with no requirement for forms, witnesses, or printed photos.

“I am very proud to say that the Passport Service continues to perform very strongly in delivering excellent customer service to Irish citizens across the word,” Simon Coveney T.D. (above), Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade and newly-appointed Tánaiste, said at the awards. “This award is a reflection of that excellent service, while also demonstrating the innovation, dedication and enthusiasm of staff in my Department to deliver a world class service.” ♦

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Girl Power: University College Cork’s Annual Alumni Awards https://irishamerica.com/2017/12/girl-power-university-college-corks-annual-alumni-awards/ https://irishamerica.com/2017/12/girl-power-university-college-corks-annual-alumni-awards/#respond Fri, 01 Dec 2017 06:50:09 +0000 http://irishamerica.com/?p=33568 Read more..]]> Several outstanding University College Cork graduates were recently honored at the university’s annual alumni awards in November, including the first visually-impaired athlete to complete seven marathons on seven continents in seven days.

UCC law alumna Sinead Kane (above right), who qualified as Ireland’s first legally blind solicitor in 2009, was among those honored. Kane, who recently completed the World Marathon Challenge, led an effort to secure visually impaired legal professionals equal opportunities in court that resulted in the introduction of legislation in 2008 allowing for visually impaired persons appearing before a court to have an assistant. Also honored were (l-r) Ruth Buckley, deputy chief executive and head of ICT and business services for Cork City Council; Gillian Keating, a partner in Ronan Daly Jermyn Solicitors; and Caroline O’Driscoll, a tax partner with KPMG Cork, the founders of I WISH, an initiative to inspire female secondary school students to consider STEM careers. They said, “we cannot tolerate a system which delivers lesser outcomes for women than for men.” ♦

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