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Ministers in NY for UN, Gathering

By Ray O'Hanlon

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and tourism minister Leo Varadkar are in New York this week to formally launch "The Gathering," the year-long series of events being staged in Ireland throughout 2013 and which is aimed at the diaspora.

The two will officiate at an unveiling reception at the Irish Consulate Wednesday evening. Gilmore will deliver Ireland's annual address at the UN General Assembly Friday.

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"This year's General Assembly discussions are likely to be dominated by events in Syria, Iran and the Middle East Peace Process," said Gilmore.

"I look forward to setting out Ireland's foreign policy priorities and our views on these issues in my speech to the General Assembly on Friday and later when I meet with the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon," the Tánaiste (deputy prime minister) added.

Added Gilmore: "Importantly, there will also be a strong Irish community focus to my visit.

"Our embassy and the consulates in the United States play a very active part in relation to issues of concern to the Irish community in the U.S., such as immigration reform and support for our emigrants, particularly the more vulnerable.

"The government is also highly appreciative of role which members of our diaspora have undertaken in helping to create jobs and restore growth in the Irish economy, including through the work of the Global Irish Network.

In this regard, I have invited representatives of local Irish community organizations and immigrant support groups to meet with me to discuss how we can continue to strengthen our work together.

In particular, I look forward to developing a stronger U.S. dimension to the decade of commemoration, those historic events of a century ago which so transformed our country and our communities, both at home and abroad."

Among his engagements, Gilmore will host a "breakfast briefing" at the Irish Consulate on to officially launch "ConnectIreland," described in a release as a "government supported incentivised referral plan designed to attract more inward investment to Ireland."