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    NY Irish centre gets government green light

    By Noreen Bowden | June 22, 2009

    An Irish centre that would encompass arts, cultural and business matters in New York City will go ahead, according to an article in the Irish Echo. The center has been a matter of discussion for many years, with Gabriel Byrne spearheading the publicity drive.

    The Irish goverment’s commitment to the centre was confirmed by Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism Martin Cullen. He said the government would give 170,000 to the centre for an initial planning phase; the centre will ultimately cost as much as $30 million. Cullen noted that the planning process would take a number of years and that by the time it was ready to build he hoped that an upbeat economy would ease funding.

    The newspaper quoted from its interview with Gabriel Byrne last summer, in which Byrne described his vision for the centre:

    “A new center would encourage not just the importation of current Irish culture, and diverse current Irish culture, but would encourage the development of a unique Irish American cultural voice, this while we would have the place to do it which is also a business center, where people from Ireland could come in and do business, where Irish people could get together socially,” was how Byrne described the proposed center.

    “Of course it’s a sensitive time economically to be asking for money. But this is the best time to invest, not just in this notion of an Irish identity and culture, but in the brand of Ireland.

    “It just needs a commitment from the Irish government to support this. The government are behind it, in theory. It just needs that final push to make it happen. You really have to envision it as a temple on the hill. We would have to make a place of welcome, not just for Irish Americans. It would reach out to all cultures, a place of light and welcome,” Byrne said at the time.

    Read the article in the Irish Echo: Center’s a go

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