Springfield, IL – Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch is delighted to welcome back guests to the House of Representatives two years after a global health pandemic forced the chamber to institute health and safety mitigations.

“This is really a testament to the people of this state and the work they’re continuing to do to get us on the other side of this pandemic,” said Speaker Welch. “Our hospitalizations are on a continuous decline and more Illinoisans have gotten a COVID-19 shot than anywhere in the Midwest.”

Speaker Welch invited the Speaker of the New York State Assembly, Speaker Carl Heastie, as well as the Consul General of Ireland to the Midwestern United States, Kevin Byrne, to address the House Chamber this week.

Speaker Heastie is the first African American to serve as the leader of the House Chamber in New York. Since he was elected in 2015, Speaker Heastie has led the Assembly Democratic Majority efforts to uplift communities and promote a Families First agenda that prioritizes strategic investments in the health, safety, economic and social well-being of New York’s families. He is a lifelong advocate for workers’ rights and was the principal negotiator in securing an increase in the minimum wage. He’s a product of public schools and is a vocal advocate for high quality public education for New York’s students.

Consul General Byrne was appointed to his post in September 2020. He joined the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs in 2010 and has served in EU Division and in Ireland’s Consulate in San Francisco. He also worked in the Department of the Taoiseach – Prime Minister – where he planned Ireland’s successful 2013 Presidency of the European Union. From his base in Chicago – a city with strong Irish heritage – Mr. Byrne works to promote Ireland and Irish interests in the region while also strengthening the relationship between Ireland and the Midwest.

“I’m extremely excited to welcome Speaker Heastie and Consul General Byrne to the House Chamber this week,” said Speaker Welch. “Not only am I eager to return to some sense of normalcy, but I’m looking forward to the message of both guests.”

Speaker Heastie will visit the chamber on Wednesday, March 16 and Consul General Byrne will visit on Thursday, March 17.

Speaker Emanuel “Chris” WelchRep. Emanuel Chris Welch

7th District

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