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Northern Irish Friendship and American Politics



Six rising political leaders from Northern Ireland arrived in Colorado in early October and returned home two weeks later with new insight into the American political system. In the beginning of October, El Pomar Foundation partnered with the American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL), a Washington, D.C. –based 501(c)(3), to host this delegation of elected officials from Northern Ireland.

The delegates spent a few days in Washington D.C., before traveling to Colorado to gain a broader perspective on local governance in the U.S. While touring Colorado Springs, Denver, and Boulder, they met with numerous elected officials, including: Mayor Hancock of Denver, Mayor Bach of Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs County Commissioner Peggy Littleton and Colorado Springs City Council Members Jan Martin, Keith King, and Merv Bennet. The delegates also toured numerous non-profit and governmental organizations, gaining perspective on issues related to education, immigration, energy policy and refugee resettlement.

In the words of David McIlveen, Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly and participant of the October 2013 ACYPL delegation,

“This program was exceptionally beneficial. As someone who thought they knew a lot about the US political system it was eye opening to realize how limited my knowledge was. It was wonderful to see first hand how the system works. As a legislator in my own country I cannot fail to return and utilize the knowledge gained from participating in the program. The staff at El Pomar are wonderful and I would recommend this program to any decision maker.”

El Pomar’s ACYPL Program is not only beneficial to the political leaders who participate, but it also serves to educate young leaders in Colorado.

Colin McCarey, one of the first year Fellows in charge of coordinating the Northern Ireland delegation, highlights the opportunity that the ACYPL Program provides to politically minded El Pomar Fellows, stating,

“Fellows gain incredible access and insight into our own political system because we are able to attend meetings with the delegates with people of significant social and political stature. “

To date, El Pomar and the ACYPL program have hosted 54 delegations from 40 countries in Colorado; and introduced over 350 international participants to all aspects of state and local government, policymaking, and politics - as well as American culture.