Jim honoured with first Spirit of the Diaspora Award
Tuesday, 1 November 2016
One of Northern Ireland's most successful overseas businessmen has been honoured with a special diaspora award by Northern Irish Connections ahead of the Belfast International Homecoming conference.
Rostrevor-born Jim Clerkin, President and CEO of Moët Hennessy North America, was presented with the award at Stormont Castle by deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and NI Connections CEO Andrew Cowan, in recognition of his ongoing commitment to helping promote Northern Irish business and cultural links around the world.
Now based in New York, Jim began his career in the drinks industry with Guinness. He was one of the first supporters of Northern Irish Connections, the non-profit organisation which helps facilitate business, tourism and cultural opportunities by connecting people at home with a network of people overseas who have links to Northern Ireland.
Northern Irish Connections, which was instrumental in having the diaspora recognised within the new draft Programme for Government, and Mr Clerkin, who is speaking at the Belfast International Homecoming this week, share the belief that the Northern Irish diaspora's cultural and economic contribution to home has never been more important.
After receiving the award from deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, he said: "To receive the first Spirit of the Diaspora Award is an honour. I hope that the award will inspire others to get involved in helping Northern Ireland live up to its potential, whether they are living at home or abroad. It is now essential that the diaspora plays a role in informing Northern Ireland's future ambitions.
“The diaspora's inclusion in the draft Programme for Government Framework shows a real commitment by the Executive to connect those of us living abroad who want to support our home and provides a renewed sense of purpose that I hope will encourage cultural and business leaders to utilise the resources within the NI Connections network.
The deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness said: "It was an honour to present the first Spirit of Diaspora Award to Jim Clerkin.
“Jim has a proven track record over many years of supporting the peace and our political, social and economic progress.
“Through his personal dedication and determination promoting business opportunities and investment in the north of Ireland many lives have been improved. Jim has been a real champion of reconciliation who never forgot his roots."
Andrew Cowan, chief executive, Northern Irish Connections commented: "Jim has been one of the most prominent members of the Northern Irish diaspora for some time. The award is testament to his willingness to bring together business and cultural connections to benefit Northern Ireland.
“At NI Connections we are working to connect people with Northern Irish links for their mutual benefit. The Northern Irish diaspora are spread throughout the world and the NI Executive has recognised the potential power of that network by including the diaspora in the Programme for Government."
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