Byrne stands by Gathering criticism


Actor Gabriel Byrne has defended his views on the Gathering, saying that he still feels it is a scam. Last month Mr Byrne, a former cultural ambassador, said the Gathering was more of a “shakedown” of Irish expatriates while speaking to Matt Cooper on Today FM. “Most people don’t give a sh*t about the diaspora except to shake them down for a few quid.”

Byrne last night said he would say it again, but there was a need for a real relationship with the Irish diaspora.

“I think the bulk of what I was saying about nurturing and developing a real relationship with a very complex group of emigrants is absolutely essential. As one guy said to me: ‘stop calling us tourists. We’re exiles, we’re emigrants’. Who am I to keep people from coming to the country? I was merely reflecting the opinions of people I have met in America.”

Byrne criticised the Gathering for holding the official launch at the Guinness Storehouse, which will take place tomorrow, while also criticising Arthur’s Day. “Arthur’s Day, what was the point of that nonsense? That was a cynical piece of exercise in a country which has a huge drinking problem,” he said at Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology.