Clinton to deliver keynote address at conference

Former US president Bill Clinton visits Ireland this week to deliver the keynote address at the annual conference of the worldwide Ireland Funds.

The three-day event at the Castlemartyr Resort in East Cork, will be attended by more than 200 business leaders, donors, Ireland Funds board members and politicians, including Taoiseach Enda Kenny and senior ministers.

Mr Kenny will deliver a major address at the conference which runs next Thursday until Saturday.

In the past year alone, the organisation has received more applications for funding than at any time in its history.

Caitriona Fottrell, vice- president and director of the Irish chapter of the Funds, said last night she saw this as a sign of hope, while recognising that the recession has put charities under enormous pressure.

“There is no doubt that the recession has seen an increasing demand for charitable services, but we also see those charities responding in innovative ways and this gives us cause for hope for the future,” she said.

Mr Clinton will attend the conference on Friday when he will speak on the importance of philanthropy and emphasise his support for Ireland. He is also expected to express confidence of an economic recovery and long-term prosperity for the country.

Kieran McLoughlin, president and CEO of the Funds, last night welcomed Mr Clinton’s visit.

“We are thrilled that [former] president Clinton is travelling to Cork to show his continuing solidarity with Ireland and to mark the success of the Ireland Funds ‘Promising Ireland Campaign’ and the generosity of our donors.”

Mr Clinton’s visit has been facilitated by his friend and adviser, Declan Kelly, Tipperary-born CEO of the New York based global consultancy Teneo.

Mr Kelly, a former Irish Examiner journalist who previously served as the US government’s special envoy to Northern Ireland, has been working with Mr Clinton on initiatives to promote Ireland as a location for investment.

It is expected that the Fund will announce an expanded financial goal at the conference, the biggest event in its annual calendar. The evening prior to Mr Clinton’s visit, delegates will be hosted by entertainer Michael Flatley at his nearby Palladian mansion, Castle Hyde.

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