A Larne woman has become the youngest-ever Northern Irish Diplomat following her appointment as First Secretary (Deputy Director) of the Northern Ireland Bureau – the diplomatic mission of the Northern Ireland Executive in the United States and Canada.
The Northern Ireland Bureau’s aim is to cultivate and strengthen links between various political, economic, educational, and cultural interests in Northern Ireland and North America. It also serves as a resource for individuals and organisations looking to learn and understand more about Northern Ireland, and about its relationship with the United States and Canada. More info here: http://www.nibureau.com/
Aged just 33, Irene Culleton is only the second woman to fulfil the role, which she will commence later this month in Washington DC.
Born and raised in Larne, Mrs Culleton was educated St MacNissi’s Primary School and St MacNissi’s College, Garron Tower, before going on to study at Queen’s University Belfast, where she was awarded an Honours Degree in Law in 2009.
Having worked in private legal practice for a number of years, she joined the NI Civil Service in September 2012 as part of the Fast Stream Graduate Programme and worked in a variety of posts, before being promoted to senior management in 2017.
Commenting on her appointment, Mrs Culleton said: “I deeply honoured to assume this role, through which I will work with colleagues to deliver the NI Executive’s International Relations Strategy, particularly as we seek to strengthen our economic position in the context of a period of economic recovery for our region.
“I greatly value the already positive relationship we have with North America and hope that I can continue to identify opportunities for collaboration to enhance social and cultural links between our countries.
“As a proud resident of Mid and East Antrim, I look forward to working with Mid and East Antrim Borough Council in support of its international relations commitments and assisting the Elected Members and officers in their engagement with counterparts in North America.”
Councillor Peter Johnston, Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, congratulated Mrs Culleton on her appointment, saying: “Irene is an excellent addition to a strong cohort of citizens from Mid and East Antrim who play an important role in international relations between Northern Ireland and various jurisdictions around the world.
“At Mid and East Antrim Borough Council we are very proud of Irene’s achievement. On behalf of my Elected Member and officer colleagues, I extend our warmest wishes for her continued success and the assurance of our continued support as she assumes this important role in Washington DC this month.”
Anne Donaghy, Chief Executive of MEABC, said: “Our international relations strategy will be central to our economic recovery and growth in the coming years as we continue to maximise opportunities for international partnerships and strive to attract inward investment into the Borough.
“Having a local woman on the ground in North America will serve as a significant boost for Mid and East Antrim, particularly as we look to build upon our sister cities in the US and develop new trade links, capitalise on opportunities stemming from Brexit and further tourism in the Borough.
“But Irene’s positive impact will be felt beyond our Borough and I have every confidence that she will quickly prove to be a huge asset to Northern Ireland. I congratulate Irene on her appointment to this exciting new role and wish her every success in the coming years.”
Andrew Elliott, Director of the Bureau in North America, said: “It’s fantastic that Irene is joining the team at this exciting time as we approach the US Presidential election.
“Irene will be working hard to represent the interests of the Northern Ireland Executive here in North America, but her connection to Larne will, as chance would have it, ensure the continuation of a long tradition, given that my immediate predecessor, Norman Houston, also spoke proudly of his connections to the town.”