Rapidly developing links between the South East of Ireland and Newfoundland are due to be further advanced following a declaration signed in the Canadian Province last week by local officials and representatives from Counties Kilkenny, Waterford and Wexford.

The declaration commits both sides to continuing links on a number of levels, culminating annually in a celebratory week called The Festival of the Sea.

The declaration was signed following a three-day conference held in the Southern Avalon region of Newfoundland at which an Irish delegation and their counterparts from The Canadian Province held discussions on how to advance exchanges between the regions on both sides of the Atlantic. Members of the Irish group included Walter Kirwan, Vice Chairman of the Ireland Newfoundland Partnership, Niall Wall from Enniscorthy, Chairman of the Irish Steering Committee, Mick Murphy from Graiguenamanagh, Co. Kilkenny, Waterford representatives Senan Cooke and Eamonn Murphy, both from Dunhill and Kristy Clarke, Assistant Director, Ireland Newfoundland Partnership.

“The session was a great success,” said Newfoundland Festival Co-Chairperson Pat Curran. “The Board of the Festival has just completed a business planning process and we took an opportunity to share the vision with our Irish and local partners and secure their support”.

Niall Wall agreed. “We now have a renewed vision for the Festival and a strong and committed team in both Ireland and Newfoundland to make this vision a reality”, he said. Calvin Manning, Newfoundland Festival Co-Chairperson and Executive Director of the conference host, the Avalon Gateway Regional Economic Development Board, is pleased with the outcome. “We have a tangible expression of our shared interest in this event and a renewed commitment at community level to make it happen”, he said.

The Festival of the Sea is an annual event designed to promote cultural, historic and community ties between Southeast Ireland and the Southern Avalon region of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.

The three pillars of the festival are: celebrating the history and culture of the linked communities; promoting local, sustainable community amenities; and identifying and responding to community development issues.

The Festival will be next hosted in South-East Ireland in September 2010. Next year it will be the turn of Newfoundland to host the event. Festival details and packages will be available shortly on the official website at newfoundlandireland.com.

The programme is organised through the “Ireland Newfoundland Partnership”, an organisation set up in 1996 following a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Governments of Ireland and Newfoundland and Labrador.