Gabriel Byrne and the Gathering 'shakedown'
What you said on irishtimes.com this week
‘Gabriel Byrne slams the Gathering’
By Ronan McGreevy
on irishtimes.comon Tuesday
The Irish actor Gabriel Byrne has dismissed the Gathering 2013 initiative as “a scam”.
Byrne, who previously served as the cultural ambassador for Ireland in the US, said many who left Ireland for the US felt abandoned by the Government – and that the bridge between Ireland and its diaspora was broken.
He also said Irish Americans were not receptive to being “shaken down” for money.
Speaking on The Last Word on Today FM today, which was broadcast from New York, Byrne said the Taoiseach’s speech launching the Gathering was “slightly offensive”.
“Most people don’t give a shit about the diaspora [in Ireland] except to shake them down for a few quid.
“The other day I was talking to a group of people. One of them was an illegal immigrant. His father died, he couldn’t get home. He feels abandoned by the Irish Government. He feels an alien. He can’t go back.
“Then I talked to two kids, a girl and a boy who were forced to emigrate because there are no jobs. And they blame the incompetence and the gangsterism of the Government for being forced to emigrate.”
Later in the week, we published a story (above) revealing that the Gathering had part-funded the visit to New York by Today FM’s Last Word programme, on which Byrne made his commentsThe Gathering in a nutshell
The Gathering is a Government-backed, year-long festival in which members of the Irish diaspora and anyone with an interest in Ireland are encouraged to visit the country during 2013.
Instead of holding new events the Gathering will sponsor hundreds of pre-existing festivals and events throughout the year. From an initial core budget of €5 million the Government hopes to attract an extra 325,000 visitors and generate €200 million in tourism revenue.
Organisers have also pushed the idea of small scale gatherings which, according to the official website, “can be as little as you inviting back an old school friend to visit Ireland in 2013, or your local GAA club asking Toronto GAA to come over for a match.”
Agree with Byrne
'It seems we've just become a nation of marketeers with little content of value'
Mr Byrne is spot on. The search for one’s roots IS a sacred one. It should be kept that way, not transformed into a piggy bank or a way to obtain extra income. And the PR-toned reply by Mr Miley I heard on rte.ietoday is hollow and does not honour at all the Irish who left the country.
Tip for Mr Miley: try giving the people Mr Byrne talked to (the youngsters that had to leave because there were no jobs) an Irish podium during the Gathering. Talk about the issues you’re avoiding today. If you actually want the Gathering to be a success, then make THOSE issues a priority in the events.
Rip-off Ireland is still alive and well, only now it has to target a different audience as the locals are austerity-ed out! Ripping off tourists will have no longterm benefits.
I would use the adjectives “crass”, “shameless”, “cynical” and “pathetic” to describe the Gathering, which should actually be called “The Collection”. As an Irish entrepreneur in the diaspora, they’re not getting a penny of my hard-earned money. I’d prefer to write a cheque to the Saint Vincent de Paul.