O'Malley to address conference in Dublin

The Baltimore Sun

Gov. Martin O'Malley, making his first trip abroad since being elected in November, is scheduled to give the keynote address at a conference on Irish politics in Dublin tomorrow night.

The governor was chosen to speak to the Boston College Irish Institute's conference and alumni reunion because of his pragmatic approach to problem-solving, said Thomas Hachey, executive director of the school's Center for Irish Programs.

"Martin has always taken the view that there is no nationalist solution, there is no unionist solution, there's a human solution" to Ireland's problems, Hachey said, comparing it to the governor's oft-repeated assertion that there are "no Democratic or Republican potholes."

"That nonpartisan, nonsectarian approach has struck a very respondent chord," Hachey said. "It's been very effective."

The governor left for Dublin yesterday and is due to return early next week. The only person accompanying O'Malley is his office director, Colm O'Comartun, an Ireland native who used to be director of the Irish Institute.

Hachey said the Irish Institute receives State Department grants to sponsor young Irish government leaders, from the north and south, to visit the U.S. The idea is to promote peace and reconciliation and improve communication.

O'Malley gave presentations on CitiStat, the government management system he implemented in Baltimore, to several of those groups. The Irish Institute also sent O'Malley to Ireland while he was mayor to give CitiStat presentations to Irish cities.

O'Malley traveled with former President Bill Clinton to Ireland during a peacemaking trip in the late 1990s, and his Celtic band, O'Malley's March, played several gigs there.

A spokesman for the governor did not have a cost estimate for the trip. It is funded by the Irish Institute with State Department grants.

During the conference today and tomorrow, hundreds of alumni of the Boston College programs are expected to attend seminars at Dublin Castle on Irish and American politics and media, immigration, education and other topics.

Hachey said O'Malley would talk about U.S. government-sponsored efforts to promote peace and reconciliation, including work done by the Irish Institute.

Irish leaders who traveled to the U.S. under the program often remark about "having exchanges they couldn't hope to have in Belfast," Hachey said, adding that it's something O'Malley "can say he's witnessed himself."

andy.green@baltsun.com laura.vozzella@baltsun.com

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