Ahern announces expansion plans for communications


The Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, announced a major expansion of the Republic's broadband communications capacity, leading to closer co-operation in the "Internet 2" and "Next Generation" initiatives, at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin yesterday.

Mr Ahern used the opportunity of President Clinton's visit to the new centre to remark on the plan to make the Liberties a "digital hub" which it is hoped will create thousands of jobs in the area.

He also said Ireland had proved an exceptionally attractive location for US foreign direct investment, listing Dell, Gateway, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, IBM and Intel as examples.

The presidential party was behind schedule when it arrived at the Guinness storehouse at James's Gate shortly after 1.30 p.m.. The President was ushered into the Arrol suite on the second floor to meet about 300 guests of the Government including past and present members of the Oireachtas, members of the judiciary, business leaders and clergy.

Before pausing for lunch the President went on to make a joint address to the assembly along with the Taoiseach Mr Ahern. Mr Ahern told Mr Clinton that he had shown strong leadership during his eight-year presidency and had helped bring prosperity and peace to people in Ireland and all over the world.

In his address Mr Ahern thanked Mr Clinton for always being available to help move the peace process forward. In response President Clinton said he and his advisers had questioned many times his reasons for being involved in the Irish peace process. He offered a number of reasons, that it was the right thing to do, that perhaps something in his Irish ancestry had propelled him, or that there were 40 million Irish votes to be had, he said. The official ceremonies over, the President was escorted to lunch. Afterwards he went up to the observation room from where a 360-degree view of the city is available, with a view stretching from the old distillery chimney in Smithfield in the north city to RTE's television mast at Montrose.