Denis Naughten, has played tribute to Roscommon native US Ambassador to the first non-American born Governor of California, James G. Downey. A bust in honour of Downey was unveiled in Castlesamson, Co. Roscommon on Friday.
Speaking following the unveiling of the bust Denis Naughten said, “Governor Downey, was the only non-American born Governor of the State of California up to the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2003. The work of Governor Downey both as a politician and a businessman could act as a role model for the leaders of Ireland today.
“When a law was proposed to hand over a valuable land bank in the city to a handful of developers, Governor Downey rejected the plans and instead, supported the interests of the citizens of San Francisco.
“This decision ultimately caught up with him, and in no small way contributed to his failure in being re-elected Governor.
“However, in the years after political office Mr Downey founded the first successful bank in Los Angeles, the Farmers & Merchants Bank, to provide much needed capital to vital elements of the state economy.
“He was also instrumental in the establishment of the University of Southern California, one of the most successful universities in the US.
“It is clear from Governor Downey’s life that he was prepared to act in the interests of the public, rather than his big business supporters, and to work to support small local businesses and the education system.
“These were valued attributes in the 1800s and are equally as important today, as we face into huge economic uncertainty.”