Tipperary, Cahir and Cashel Municipal District gave a Cead Mile Failte to the Ambassador of the Republic of Columbia, her excellency Patricia Cortés Ortiz, during a reception held in her honour last week.
The event was hosted by Cathaoirleach Michael Fitzgerald who used the opportunity to practice his spanish in welcoming Ambassador Ortiz to Tipperary.
Cllr Fitzgerald said that despite diplomatic relationships between the countries being ‘relatively new’, links between Ireland and Columbia are far reaching, dating back to the 19th century when an estimated 2,000 Irish volunteers played a central role in helping Colombia gain independence from Spain.
In his speech, Cllr Fitzgerald listed the strong link between some of Ireland’s largest businesses including Ryanair and SEPAM/ Cleantek who both have bases in Columbia.
The Colombian embassy in Dublin was established in January 2019 with Ireland quickly following suit, opening an embassy in Bogotá. This year Minister Pat Breen led the first ever St. Patrick’s Day parade in Colombia on the city’s renowned cycleway.
Ambassador Ortiz thanked the assembled councillors Declan Burgess, Marie Murphy, John Crosse, Michael Anglim and Cathaoirleach Michael Fitzgerald for their warm welcome saying there was opportunity for further engagement and mobility between the two countries.
She cited a recent visit from a delegation from UCC, CIT and Cork ETB to Colombian universities as being extremely significant.
This was Ms Ortiz’s second visit to the premier county having previously accompanied former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos during a visit in 2018 to collect the Tipperary International Peace Award.
Cllr Michael Anglim welcomed the 'blossoming relations’ between the two countries while Cllr Declan Burgess said he was particularly pleased to welcome Ambassador Ortiz to Tipperary as it was his first ‘Cathaoirleach’s welcome’ since being elected to the council in May this year.
“I’m very pleased to have you here but I wish we had better weather for you. I love travelling and experiencing new cultures and Columbia is on my list so I hope to make it there in the coming years,” he said.
Cllr Marie Murphy said the Cathaoirleach’s welcome was exceptionally timely as Sunday, November 10, 2019 would mark 20 years since Ireland established diplomatic relations with Colombia.
“You’re welcome to Tipperary, you’ve come a long way,” she added.
Also in attendance at the Cathaoirleach’s welcome was Colombian native Alba Cifuentes, now based in Rossadrehid, who moved to Ireland 14 years ago.