Diaspora gathering details unveiled


More than 150 members of the Irish business diaspora will attend the Government’s economic forum at Farmleigh later this month, according to the Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin.

The minister today published new details of the event, which will take place on September 18th-20th, and “aims to explore how the Irish, at home and abroad, and those with a strong interest in Ireland, can work together to contribute to our overall efforts at economic recovery”, he said.

Restoring the reputation of Ireland as a business-friendly State after the “no” vote to the Lisbon treaty, the Anglo Irish Bank affair and the sharp reversal of Ireland’s economic fortunes will be top of the agenda.

The confirmed guests include Bob Geldof; Craig Barrett, the retired chief executive and chairman of Intel; Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce; chairwoman of the American Ireland Fund Loretta Brennan Glucksman and Dennis Swanson, the president of Fox Television Stations.

A number of Irish-based business executives and members of the Opposition have also been invited to the event, with total attendees expected to exceed 180.

The Minister said the overseas guests were travelling to the event at their own expense.

The Taoiseach will be the only keynote speaker at the event, which opens on Friday the 18th with his address on the so-called smart economy. This will be followed by a panel discussion on “the global economy: positioning Ireland for the upturn”.

Other panel discussions include “Ireland - the innovation island”; “promoting brand Ireland through our global cultural profile”; “Ireland’s image abroad: what is it now, how can it be improved and what role can new media play”; and “Ireland and its Diaspora: harnessing unique resource”.

The programme also includes a reception hosted by President McAleese at Áras an Uachtaráin, a dinner at Dublin Castle hosted by the Tánaiste, Mary Coughlan, and attendance at the All-Ireland football final at Croke Park.

“That was a piece of opportunistic planning by yours truly in anticipation that Cork would reach the final,” Mr Martin said.

It is hoped that the event, which was suggested to the Government by the economist David McWilliams, will strengthen relationships between prominent Irish business people working abroad and the Government.

“The idea is for a more formal network, with more connectivity between the diaspora. Traditionally, we’ve had a country-by-country approach. This is a new approach to creating the Irish family. It’s far more synergistic,” said Mr Martin.

The Minister said he hoped that similar conferences would be held at least every two years. A website to promote the event has been launched at www.globalirishforum.ie.