Global Irish Economic Forum
|Global Irish Economic Forum|
Official logo of the conference
|Date||18–20 September 2009|
|Cities||Farmleigh, Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland|
|Participants||Various Irish and international figures from the worlds of business and culture|
The Global Irish Economic Forum is a biennial conference held in Dublin, Ireland. Inspired by the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, international figures from the worlds of business and culture attend the event. The first Forum was held at Farmleigh in Dublin's Phoenix Park from 18–20 September 2009, and was given widespread coverage by RTÉ. The second forum was held at Dublin Castle in 2011.
The idea for the Forum was conceived by economist David McWilliams who then informed the Irish Government. The hosting of the event caused a political disagreement between Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin and Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Mary Coughlan. The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment sought successful members of the Irish diaspora, with Taoiseach Brian Cowen personally inviting them to attend the event in April. However, Martin claimed that the "global Irish family" was his department's responsibility. Martin launched the event on the afternoon of 1 September 2009.
Guests pay their own expenses. Attendees have come from Argentina, Australia, Britain, China, Europe, the Middle East and New Zealand. Michael O'Leary was notably absent because of his lack of popularity with the Irish Government. In alphabetical order, notable guests with international connections include:
- Craig Barrett, former CEO of Intel Corporation
- Loretta Brennan-Glucksman, chairperson of The American Ireland Fund
- John Collison, Limerick-born entrepreneur
- Kip Condron, CEO of AXA Financial
- Tom Corcoran, senior adviser with the Carlyle Group
- Dermot Desmond, financier, entrepreneur and major shareholder of Celtic F.C..
- Moya Doherty, producer of Riverdance and director of Tyrone Productions
- Irial Finan, Coca-Cola
- John Fitzpatrick, chief executive of Fitzpatrick Hotel Group
- Bob Geldof, political activist and former rock star
- Basil Geoghegan, managing director of Deutsche Bank in London
- James Hogan, CEO of Etihad Airways
- PJ Hough, corporate vice president of Microsoft
- Neil Jordan, Academy Award-winning film director
- Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas
- Declan Kelly, director of American Ireland Fund
- Gerald Lawless, Jumeirah group
- Myles Lee, CRH plc
- Pearse Lyons, founder and president of Alltech of Nicholasville, Kentucky, USA, which is the name sponsor of Muhammad Ali's charity in Louisville
- Bob McCann, former head of Merrill Lynch's brokerage business
- Stan McCarthy, Kerry Group
- Brendan McDonagh, CEO of HSBC North America
- Paul McGuinness, manager of U2
- Denis O'Brien, chairman of Digicel
- Liam O'Mahony, chairman of Smurfit Kappa
- Gerry Robinson, former chairman of Allied Domecq and former chairperson and CEO of Granada
- Dan Rooney, United States Ambassador to Ireland
- Anita Sands, managing director of Citigroup in New York City
- Peter Sutherland, former Attorney General of Ireland
- Denis Swanson, president of the Fox Broadcasting Company
- Margaret Sweeney, CEO of Postbank
- Willie Walsh, British Airways
Taoiseach Brian Cowen gave the opening address, talking about the concept of a smart economy. A panel discussion then took place on the topic of "the global economy: positioning Ireland for the upturn" and this was followed by further panel discussions on "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".
Guests will also attend the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final at Croke Park on 20 September. Micheál Martin, whose constituency is Cork South-Central, described it as "a piece of opportunistic planning by yours truly in anticipation that Cork would reach the final".
Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Mary Coughlan was ridiculed in the Irish media after crediting Albert Einstein for Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. At the launch on 17 September, she made the comparison "like Einstein explaining his theory of evolution". The incident prompted comparisons with American politicians such as Dan Quayle and Sarah Palin, with the Evening Herald referring to Coughlan in a derogatory manner as a "lovely girl" and saying she was "Ireland's own version" of Palin. The error came in the same week as she referred to her Green Party coalition partners as "the vegetables" during an Irish language radio interview.
In an interview with Bloomberg Television at the Forum, shareholder Denis O'Brien said Independent News & Media might shut down its flagship London newspaper The Independent by the end of 2009, saying it was "irrelevant" and that nobody wanted to read it. O'Brien also advocated a Yes vote during the second Irish referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon, claiming it was "essential for setting Ireland on the path to growth".
Craig Barrett, former CEO and chairman of Intel Corporation, warned delegates that Ireland was spending "far too little" on education and that "schools are a bigger problem than banking". Taoiseach Brian Cowen seemed to agree with Barrett.
Bob Geldof said countries of a similar size to Ireland, some impoverished, were spending as much as 6 per cent on research and development but that Ireland spends just 2 per cent. He also said Mary Coughlan had "a lovely pair of legs" which caused her to blush.
On the second day of the forum, Irish Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism Martin Cullen expressed his disagreement with proposed cuts in public sending which were suggested by the McCarthy Report. Neil Jordan said Ireland's culture had not disappointed the country in the same way as institutions such as the banks and the Church had done so. Denis O'Brien said Ireland's culture was the key to success, saying his Digicell group obtained a Samoan licence because the Prime Minister's education had come from Irish priests: "We are famous for our writers, our artists, our poets and we are not famous for much else". There was a consensus amongst those attending that Ireland's banks needed to be reformed. Micheál Martin, in his closing remarks to the Forum, said the contributions of the delegates "will be taken forward and action will be taken", spoke of his hopes to establish an "online portal for a virtual community of people of Irish descent to stay in touch" and stated he would also focus on non-traditional countries of the Irish diaspora such as Russia.
President Mary McAleese praised the "“interest in and commitment to" of those who attended, saying the event showed that Ireland is "considerably more than an island on the edge of Europe, but the centre of a vast networked community".
Martin Murphy, managing director of Hewlitt-Packard Ireland, saw it as an opportunity to "truly begin positioning this small, export-driven country for real and sustained economic renewal and growth".
- "Global Irish Economic Summit planned for Farmleigh". The Belfast Telegraph. 1 September 2009. Retrieved 18 September 2009.
- "Forum Coverage". RTÉ. Archived from the original on 22 September 2009. Retrieved 18 September 2009.
- Sam Smyth (2 September 2009). "Martin sparks turf war with Coughlan over economy forum". Irish Independent. Retrieved 18 September 2009.
- Brian O'Mahony (2 September 2009). "180 leading figures to attend think-in". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 18 September 2009.
- Laura Slattery (1 September 2009). "Diaspora gathering details unveiled". The Irish Times. Retrieved 18 September 2009.
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.
- "Economic summit for Ireland details to be released". Irish Examiner. 1 September 2009. Retrieved 18 September 2009.
- "Farmleigh event to seek diaspora ideas". RTÉ. 1 September 2009. Retrieved 18 September 2009.
- John Mulligan (26 August 2009). "Government rallies Irish diaspora to help deliver the 'smart economy'". Irish Independent. Retrieved 18 September 2009.
- JOE BRENNAN and JOHN MULLIGAN (19 September 2009). "Experts agree banks must be stabilised before the recovery". Irish Independent. Retrieved 19 September 2009.
- "Emigrants returning for think-tank". Press Association. 1 September 2009. Retrieved 18 September 2009.
- "Forum: 'good ideas on the table'". RTÉ. 19 September 2009. Retrieved 19 September 2009.
- Ronan McGreevey (19 September 2009). "Ali thanks people of Ennis for warm reception". The Irish Times. Retrieved 19 September 2009.
The letter is written by Ali’s friend John Ramsey, who is involved with the Alltech Muhammad Ali Centre Global Education and Charitable Fund based in Louisville, Kentucky. It was also sent to Alltech’s founder and president Dr Pearse Lyons who organised Ali’s visit to Ireland, and was one of the guests yesterday at the economic forum of the global Irish in Farmleigh House. Irish-owned Alltech is based in Ali’s home state of Kentucky.
- Steven Carroll (19 September 2009). "President praises delegates' efforts". The Irish Times. Retrieved 19 September 2009.
Ms McAleese said the forum highlighted that Ireland was “considerably more than an island on the edge of Europe, but the centre of a vast networked community”. [...] Speaking at a reception in Áras an Uachtaráin for delegates, Mrs McAleese said, regardless of their ties to the country, the participants’ “interest in and commitment to” Ireland was valued.
- Senan Molony (18 September 2009). "Coughlan's no Einstein after gaffe at 'smart economy' launch". Irish Independent. Retrieved 18 September 2009.
- Kevin Doyle, POLITICAL REPORTER (18 September 2009). "Coughlan reveals she's no Einstein". Evening Herald. Archived from the original on 18 February 2013. Retrieved 18 September 2009.
- "After mixing up Darwin and Einstein, how long can we carry on with our laughing stock Tanaiste?". Evening Herald. 18 September 2009. Archived from the original on 17 February 2013. Retrieved 18 September 2009.
- Gergely, Andras (18 September 2009). "O'Brien sees London's Independent closed by Dec". Reuters. Retrieved 18 September 2009.
- Victoria Thomson (19 September 2009). "O'Brien claims 'irrelevant' Independent to fold by Christmas". The Scotsman. Retrieved 19 September 2009.
- Brian O’Mahony and Stephen Rogers (19 September 2009). "Schools bigger problem than banking'". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 19 September 2009.
- Colette Fitzpatrick (25 September 2009). "When Geldof told Mary that she had lovely legs, she should have used them to run a mile". Evening Herald. Archived from the original on 20 February 2013. Retrieved 25 September 2009.
- "Cullen criticises cuts proposals". The Irish Times. 19 September 2009. Retrieved 19 September 2009.
Businessman Denis O'Brien told the forum today Ireland's literary and musical heritage can be used to open business doors around the world and help seal deals in the face of economic crisis. "The fact that we have such a strong culture as a country really gives us one of the big advantages of any nation in the world," he said. "We are famous for our writers, our artists, our poets and we are not famous for much else," said the chairman of Digicel, adding that his cell phone group had got a licence to operate in Samoa because the country's prime minister had been educated by an Irish religious order.
- Carmel Crimmins (19 September 2009). "Singing & dancing seen helping Ireland out of crisis". Reuters. Retrieved 19 September 2009.
- IRISH TIMES REPORTERS (19 September 2009). "Martin hails ideas forum input". The Irish Times. Retrieved 19 September 2009.
"Your work this week will be taken forward and action will be taken," Mr Martin told participants at a press conference this evening. "We are going through a crisis at the moment which does require ... a very significant (cut to) budget. They are the overarching priorities that the Government has at the moment and we have to try and work within that." Mr Martin said the Government would look at creating an online portal for a virtual community of people of Irish descent to stay in touch, as well as more educational exchanges and diaspora-linked tourism. He also said he wanted to boost Ireland’s presence around the world to harness the Irish diaspora in countries not traditionally focused on before, such as Russia.
- Martin Murphy (17 September 2009). "Shifting the focus to an enterprise culture". The Irish Times. Retrieved 19 September 2009.
This weekend’s Global Economic Forum conference at Farmleigh House in Dublin is a great opportunity for Ireland – and I stress the word “opportunity’’, because I view the forum as an opportunity for business and political leaders to come together to truly begin positioning this small, export-driven country for real and sustained economic renewal and growth.
- Official website
- Photo gallery at RTÉ.ie
- Mark Little's blog at RTÉ.ie
- Opening address by Taoiseach Brian Cowen