Byrne dismisses Gathering as a scam
Former cultural ambassador Gabriel Byrne has dismissed The Gathering as a “scam” and said it amounted to a “shakedown” of the Irish disapora.
Byrne criticised the Government’s flagship tourism programme which aims to bring 325,000 visitors to Ireland next year and said Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s speech launching it recently had not gone down well in Irish-America.
Speaking on Today FM’s The Last Word with Matt Cooper yesterday, he said Irish-Americans were seen only as tourists to be milked for a “few quid” and most Irish people did not understand the spiritual connection that the diaspora felt with Ireland.
“Most people don’t give a shit about the diaspora except to shake them down for a few quid. I remember when I was growing up in Dublin those buses would pull up and those people in Burberry coats would be laughed at because they’d say ‘here come the Yanks looking for their roots’.
A statement last night from The Gathering pointed out that to date 1,015 events have been organised for next year.
The Gathering received support yesterday from television and radio presenter Terry Wogan. When asked on BBC Radio 4 if it was a “tourism wheeze”, Wogan said: “Of course it is. It is an attempt to bring more people to Ireland to spend their money and enjoy themselves. The one thing that we can guarantee is that they will. The kind of welcome they will get will be like no other. ”