Again? US radio host wants to know if Ireland plans to leave UK

Tourism Ireland chief executive Niall Gibbons left bemused after bizarre question

Pascal Donohoe (l), Minister for Transport Tourism and Sport , launching the Tourism Ireland mid-year review with Niall Gibbons CEO Tourism Ireland in Dublin in August this year. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Pascal Donohoe (l), Minister for Transport Tourism and Sport , launching the Tourism Ireland mid-year review with Niall Gibbons CEO Tourism Ireland in Dublin in August this year. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

Tourism Ireland chief executive Niall Gibbons was left bemused when an American radio host asked him: “I don’t want to put you on the spot here, Niall. I want to find out, there are no plans for Ireland deciding to leave the UK, are there?”

The question was asked on CRN Talk Radio’s What’s Cookin’ programme, a coast-to-coast programme which is broadcast to 250 stations and cable networks across the United States.

Mr Gibbons and Minister for Tourism Paschal Donohoe were on the show promoting the launch of Ifest Boston, a promotional event for Irish tourism in Boston.

Co-presenter Mike Horn asked the question. Mr Gibbons decided not to offer him a history or geography lesson, but instead decided to focus on promoting Ireland.

“(That’s)an interesting question,” he replied. “Ireland is a destination in itself. We are encouraging people to jump into Ireland. It is very much a standalone destination.”

Horn seemed to be enamoured too by Mr Donohoe’s accent: “I could listen to Pas-Kal all day long. You’re just something else. We say Ireland, you say Oireland. I just want to go there.”

Mr Donohoe replied: “I could talk to you all day about all we have to offer.”

The interview which happened in September has echoes of the bizarre exchange between CNBC Squawk Box host Joe Kernen and the chief executive of the IDA Martin Shanahan recently in which Kernen expressed surprise that Ireland does not use sterling.

“Why do you have the euro in Ireland?” Kernen asked. “Why don’t you use sterling?”

Kernen compounded his ignorance by having a very tenuous grasp of geography when he thought Ireland and Great Britain were joined. “It is sort of the same, same island isn’t it?”

The exchange went viral on the internet and the clip has been viewed more than 500,000 times on YouTube.