There have been numerous exchange visits between Sligo and Kempten since their Twinning Association was established 30 years ago. While restrictions imposed during the Covid pandemic have interrupted these contacts, Mayor Councillor Rosaleen O’Grady and Mayor of Kempten Thomas Kiechle were anxious to find a way of maintaining this long-standing friendship while travel restrictions are in place.
Video link maintains contact with Kempten friends
On Thursday last the Mayors hosted a ‘virtual meeting’, which included a special message from German Ambassador to Ireland Deike Potzel, who is a regular visitor to Sligo.
Attending from Sligo were Mayor Councillor O’Grady, Chief Executive Tom Kilfeather, Councillor Declan Bree Sligo, Town Twinning Committee, Dymphna Gorman, President Sligo Town Twinning and Kevin Colreavy, Corporate Services.
Accompanying Mayor Kiechle were his wife Ulli, Claudia Michna Kempten Town Twinning, and Elisabeth Heinz, Mayor’s Office.
Mayor O’Grady said that while we would naturally have preferred to maintain our long-standing friendship with personal contacts, ‘This virtual forum marks a ‘first’ in the Sligo-Kempten Association. Following a hugely challenging year for our respective communities, there is a glimmer of light on the horizon and we hope in the coming months to regain a semblance of normality in our lives. Until that day comes we will continue to be cautious, to take the necessary precautions, and to be mindful of the health and wellbeing of the most vulnerable members of our community.’
The Mayor introduced a special video message from the German Ambassador to Ireland Deike Potzel, who is a frequent visitor to Sligo.
The Mayor said Ambassador Potzel is a very generous and welcoming host, recalling a visit of a Sligo delegation to the German Embassy in 2019.
In her video message Ambassador Potzel commended the people involved in Kempten and Sligo who had maintained this vibrant friendship by arranging exchanges at many levels, civic, sporting, educational and cultural, and commended the Twinning Associations for finding new ways of communicating during the pandemic.
Mayor Kiechle recalled the origins and development of the Kempten -Sligo Association, and paid tribute to two people who have made an outstanding contribution to the relationship, Dymphna Gorman in Sligo and Claudia Michne in Kempten. He discussed the impact of the Covid pandemic on his local community and was interested in comparing details of the situation in Sligo relating to hospitals and schools.
Councillor Declan Bree informed Mayor Kiechle of the arrangements for hosting Council meetings during the pandemic, noting that they were able to conduct their business in a hybrid format with a number of Members attending in the Council Chamber and other attending virtually.
Chief Executive Tom Kilfeather outlined the national and local economic position, noting that the Government had been very supportive to date of businesses and people who had lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
Dymphna Gorman, President Sligo Town Twinning, discussed recent initiatives and has been working closely with the German Embassy in Dublin to promote a language skills programme through our local schools
Mayor Kiechle outlined plans for a ‘Virtual’ Annual Festwoche (Festival) in August, and Mayor O’Grady looked forward to welcoming Kempten friends to Sligo when restrictions allow.