McBride, Bennett Praise Signing of Oklahoma Ireland Trade Commission Bill

Apr 30, 2024
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Reps. Mark McBride, R-Moore, and Forrest Bennett, D-Oklahoma City, today celebrated the governor's signing of House Bill 3305, establishing the Oklahoma Ireland Trade Commission. The act becomes effective Nov. 1.

The Commission will consist of nine members with the purpose of advancing business and other mutually beneficial activities between Oklahoma and Ireland. The Commission is required to report any findings or recommendations to the governor and legislative leadership within one year of its first meeting and by Feb. 1 each year thereafter.

"Many Oklahomans are of Irish descent or have close ties to the Emerald Isle," McBride said. "We've enjoyed a rich history of sharing resources and trust with this longtime trade partner and ally. The work of this Commission will increase and strengthen our partnerships in business, culture and goodwill."

McBride, the House author of the measure, said it was important this move forward as a bipartisan effort. It was co-authored and carried in committee and on the House floor by Rep. Bennett.

"I'm thrilled to see us one step closer to making the Commission a reality," Bennett said. "We've already received enthusiastic interest from Oklahomans in the private sector, as well as the support of our colleagues, and we look forward to utilizing the Irish Trade Commission to build on the strong economic and cultural ties that bind us with Ireland."

Sen. Greg McCortney, R-Ada, is the Senate author of the bill.

The legislation was in collaboration with Mark Daly, chair of the Senate of Ireland. It matches efforts in other states to create similar trade commissions. 

In committee, Bennett said that Ireland is home to 950 U.S. companies that use the island-nation as a jumping off point for the European trade market, which has 450 million consumers, and the United Kingdom market, which is 67 million consumers. Ireland is the ninth-largest investor in the United States' economy.

Bennett also made reference to an existing relationship between the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma and the Irish that has existed since members of the Choctaw Nation sent aid to the Irish during that country's devastating potato famine in the 1840s. In 2017, a sculpture commemorating the gift was dedicated in Midleton in County Cork, Ireland. 

Oklahoma House of Representatives seal