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Biden election is ‘a game changer’ for Ballina


ON HOME GROUND Then US Vice-President Joe Biden meeting young Fiadh Judge in Ballina when he visited his ancestral hometown back in June, 2016. Residents of the north Mayo town feel his election now as President could have huge benefits for the locality. Pic: Maxwells

Edwin McGreal

The coverage Ballina has received in recent days and weeks is ‘almost like a multi million euro investment in the town’.
That’s according to local Cllr Mark Duffy who said Joe Biden’s success in the US Presidential Election could be ‘a game changer’ for the town.
“I think it will have a benefit to the whole county because I cannot emphasise enough how much publicity has been generated on the back of this. There has been literally been 100 million views for Ballina online via all the international media reports in the past couple of weeks.
“This is millions of euro worth of free PR. It is almost like a multi million euro investment in the town and that investment will return a dividend when Covid restrictions hopefully subside and tourists can come,” Cllr Duffy told The Mayo News.
Much of the media attention focused on the mural of Joe Biden at Market Square in the town.
The mural was painted by local artists Padraig ‘Smiler’ Mitchell and Lesley Lackey two months ago, organised by the Ballina Community Clean-Up group, which Cllr Duffy is heavily involved with.
It was an active effort to position the town to capitalise on media attention.
“We were out ahead of it two months ago and it meant that any of the conversation wasn’t about Ballina or Louth, it was all about Ballina. Not wanting to eat Louth’s lunch but you have to own the thing too. The connections are strong, it is authentic as well,” he said.
But it was not just about positioning yourself economically to the future but also acknowledging and reflecting on how Joe Biden’s story is indicative of the story of so many Irish families.
“It should be a sense of pride for not just everyone in Ballina and Mayo but in Ireland. We have had such a bleak and dark history when people had to emigrate to the UK and Australia and the US and to go at such a difficult and sad time in Irish history.
“To have went and worked for generations, to live that American Dream and for a descendant of an Irish immigrant to reach the highest office in the land is hugely symbolic.
“Saturday being the 30th anniversary of Mary Robinson becoming Ireland’s first female president and her message towards the diaspora with the candle in the window, it is hugely symbolic that 30 years later you have a member of the Irish diaspora from Ballina becoming President of the US. It is a very strong, symbolic story, the stars seemed to align on Saturday,” he said.