Taoiseach’s Web Summit invite sent at 9pm on Friday

Invitation to ‘Deputy Kenny’ for event opening on Monday sought RSVP by 1pm Sunday

Paddy Cosgrave, co-founder of the Web Summit with Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the event last year. Mr Kenny will not be attended the event this year, the last in Ireland for at least three years. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Paddy Cosgrave, co-founder of the Web Summit with Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the event last year. Mr Kenny will not be attended the event this year, the last in Ireland for at least three years. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s invitation to attend the Web Summit was only sent to his general Oireachtas email address after 9pm on Friday.

The summit opens on Monday night.

The email invitation is addressed to “Deputy Kenny” rather than Taoiseach, and contains a request for an RSVP by 1pm on Sunday.

The email was quarantined on the Oireachtas email system for a period due to concerns it may have been spam.

The relationship between Web Summit co-founder Paddy Cosgrave and the Government has become strained recently with correspondence showing Mr Cosgrave was frustrated at what he perceived as a lack of engagement on the summit’s future.

The full text of the Web Summit invitation to the Taoiseach reads as follows:

“Dear Deputy Kenny,

I hope you are well. Paddy Cosgrave would like to extend an invitation to you to attend Web Summit 2015 at the RDS, Dublin between the 3-5 November.

“If you would like to attend, please RSVP to this email address by 1pm Sunday, 1 November. Hope to see you there.

Kind regards,”

Mr Kenny has been a big supporter and high profile attendee at the high-tech networking event since it was first held in Dublin in 2013. The event has received €700,000 in State funding over the last three years.

Last year the Taoiseach rang the Nasdaq opening bell from the RDS during the Web Summit and in 2013 he shared a platform with PayPal and Tesla co-founder, Elon Musk.

Mr Kenny will not be attending the Web Summit this year, the last in the Republic before it moves to Lisbon for a three-year period next year.

Instead the Government will be represented by Minister for Enterprise Richard Bruton.

The Irish Times contacted the Summit organisers to ask if they were satisfied with the way the Taoiseach’s invitation was extended.

Its communication spokesman Mike Harvey said the organisation had held a series of discussions with the Taoiseach’s office about his possible participation going back to last May but “unfortunately these discussions came to nothing”.

The invitation Mr Kenny did receive was part of a batch of invitations sent to all TDs.

Mr Harvey pointed out that no formal invitation had been sent to Mr Kenny either in 2013 or 2014 when he did attend the Summit and he stressed there “has always been a standing invitation” for the Taoiseach to come.

He said he was “mystified” as to why the failure to send a formal invitation on this occasion had attracted any attention at all.

“We appreciate that he has a busy schedule but even at this late stage he would be heartily welcomed,” he added.

Meanwhile it has emerged the Department of Foreign Affairs warned the IDA last May that it would be “extremely damaging” for Ireland and the IDA if the Web Summit left Dublin.

In emails released to RTÉ News under Freedom of Information, the Department of Foreign Affairs said signals from Mr Cosgrove that it was considering moving the event to another country were “very worrying”.

In response, the IDA said Mr Cosgrave “regularly brings up the issue of moving [THE]Web Summit”.

In another email, an IDA staff member said Mr Cosgrave had gone “on a bit of a rant about traffic management, hotel prices and wifi”.

In September the Web Summit announced plans to relocate to Lisbon from 2016. It said issues connected to traffic management, hotel prices and wifi, were behind the decision.