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    Global Irish Economic Forum: first thoughts

    By Noreen Bowden | September 18, 2009

    Here at the Global Irish Economic Forum, the media is getting relatively little access to the happenings. While the opening speech was open to the press as well as being streamed online, the sessions are closed.

    What are we missing out on? The plenary session was called, optimistically, “The global economy: positioning Ireland for the upturn”. It featured Tanaiste Mary Coughlan, Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan, HSBC CEO Brendan McDonagh, Retired Intel CEO Craig Barrett and Qantas CEO Alan Joyce on the panel. Next, attendees were divided among eleven breakout working groups to discuss economic topics undisclosed to the media.

    • As for the opening speech, it was about what one would expect from Taoiseach Brian Cowen for such a gathering: congratulatory talk about the fact that this is the first such gathering of global business talent for the benefit of Ireland, a determination that this would be the start of an ongoing process, hope that this effort would ultimately result in the restoration of a prosperous Ireland.
    • Among the more interesting aspects was the fact that article 2 of the Constitution is looming large in the Taoiseach’s mind. The pertinent quote, which became part of the constitution after the Irish people voted to change the document in 1999, is “the Irish nation cherishes its special affinity with people of Irish ancestry living abroad who share its cultural identity and heritage”. The Taoiseach cited the article in his opening remarks to media, noting its appropriateness as one of the culminations of the peace process after the role that the diaspora had played in it. “This weekend we give renewed impetus to this assertion”, he said in his speech that opened the conference. Considering how profound an event is constitutional change, and how little the implications of this change have been discussed over the last decade, it is worth watching to see if this remains part of the discussion.
    • The Taoiseach also cited the “six million people on the island of Ireland”, yet the North looks a bit underrepresented here. The Chair of Invest NI is attending, but there are no Northern politicians here to match their counterparts from the Republic. One wonders if the Taoiseach’s words reflect any intention to move toward greater joint engagement on the issue of the Diaspora.
    • The number of women is disappointing – looks like a little more than ten percent of those in attendance are women, yet statistics show that emigration has been fairly equally divided between men and women in recent decades.

    Topics: Latest News | 1 Comment »

    One Response to “Global Irish Economic Forum: first thoughts”

    1. Regional, youth Farmleighs to follow Global Irish Economic Forum | – about Irish emigration and the diaspora Says:
      March 9th, 2010 at 11:10 am

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