Ireland Celebrates formal opening of Honorary Consul’s office in Ohio

Ireland’s Ambassador to the United States, H.E Geraldine Byrne Nason, traveled to Ohio this week to formally celebrate the opening of the office of Ireland’s first Honorary Consul to Ohio.

Mark Owens, VP of Marketing at Team NEO, a Derry (Ireland) native, who has lived in Cleveland since 2001, took up his duties in March 2023. The position represents a historic first for Ireland and Ohio and it will be used to further develop links to the strong Irish and Irish-American community in the Buckeye State.

The celebration, which took place at the Union Club in Cleveland, was attended by Geraldine Byrne Nason, Ireland’s Ambassador to the United States, Ellen Flanagan, Vice Consul, Consulate General of Ireland in New York with responsibility for Ohio, colleagues from Team NEO, and prominent guests from Ohio’s political, business and cultural communities.

The decision of the Tánaiste, Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin, to appoint Mr Owens as Ireland’s first ever Honorary Consul to Ohio is a testament to the strength of Ohio’s well-developed Irish community, as well as the growing political, business and cultural links with Ireland. These links have been further facilitated by a direct flight between Dublin and Cleveland, inaugurated this year.

Ambassador Byrne Nason said:

“I am delighted to celebrate the opening of the office of Ireland’s first Honorary Consul to Ohio. The contribution made by our Honorary Consuls around the world is a vital part of Ireland’s diplomatic engagement. Mark’s appointment earlier this year is a signal of our commitment to further deepening our engagement with Ohio. Mark will be an important link for Ireland to Ohio and will be a huge support to Irish citizens and Irish businesses active in Ohio.”

Going forward, the Honorary Consul’s office in Cleveland will support Ireland’s Embassy in Washington, D.C. and Consulate General in New York in facilitating business and official visits from Ireland, providing information on Ireland and consular guidance and assistance to Irish citizens in Ohio.

Ahead of the ceremony, Consul General of Ireland in New York, Helena Nolan, said:

“Mark’s commitment and strong network in Ohio, as well as his business connections will be a huge asset to Ireland and to Ohio going forward. I am delighted that he has taken up his role as Honorary Consul, in what is a first for Ireland Ohio relations. I look forward to continuing our close work together”.

Mr Owens said:

“I am deeply honored to be appointed as the first Honorary Consul of Ireland in Ohio. This role allows me to strengthen ties between Ohio and Ireland, celebrating our rich heritage, and building a legacy of unity and partnership. I am excited about the journey ahead and the opportunities it holds for strengthening our Irish community, enriching the cultural tapestry of our region, and fostering economic growth. Together, we can create a legacy that future generations will look back on with pride.”

Mark Owens Bio

Born in Derry City, Ireland, Mark moved permanently to the US (Cleveland area) in 2001 having previously studied at John Carroll University as part of a scholarship program that supported young adults who grew up during ‘The Troubles’ in the north of Ireland. Prior to this he studied at Belfast Metropolitan College, where he graduated with a production management degree, and he recently completed his Executive MBA at Southeast Technological University (SETU), Ireland.

Mark has over fifteen years’ experience within the marketing and public affairs industry in a variety of operational and managerial positions across several sectors including retail, insurance, financial services, and non-profits. He currently serves as the VP of Marketing and Communications for Team NEO’s, the region’s economic development agency and JobsOhio network partner. Mark is responsible for creating and accelerating the organization’s marketing strategy and brand recognition across the Northeast Ohio Region and beyond. He is focused on driving the vision of helping promote Northeast Ohio, offering local partners a more powerful platform to share their successes, market their assets, and attract more investment.

Very active in the local community Mark, was recently appointed to the board of Global Cleveland, where he Co-Chairs the Sister Cities Committee, and currently serves as Chair of the Business Advisory Committee at Cuyahoga Community College, President of the Cleveland Irish Business Network. He has also served as Chair of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission Associate Board and is a past board member of Ohio City Incorporated where he remains involved as a member of the Irishtown Bend Park strategy and Irish heritage committees.

For queries on Friday’s ceremony, contact: (917 297 6142)

Notes for the editor:

Honorary Consuls are an important element of the Irish State’s global engagement. The functions, privileges and immunities of honorary consuls are set out in the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963. The Diplomatic and Consular Relations Act, 1967 gave the Convention the force of law in the State and enabled Ireland to ratify the Convention the same year.

Ireland has an extensive network of approximately 100 honorary consuls or honorary consuls general throughout the world. While the roles and functions performed by honorary consuls can vary, they are generally appointed to provide consular services and assistance to Irish citizens in a specific geographical area, particularly in countries where there is no resident mission, and they also assist with trade promotion, in consultation with their supervising mission. The Honorary Consul in Ohio is supervised by the Consulate General of Ireland, New York.

You can access images from the event below.

Image’s courtesy of Wetzler’s Photography