The Department of An Taoiseach paid out over €120,000 to two firms to help run a two-day technology event in June. Leo Varadkar opened the Data Summit at the Convention Centre Dublin which hosted speakers included vice president and chief internet evangelist at Google, Vint Cerf, and Ireland’s data protection commissioner Helen Dixon.
New documents show that the department paid €96,136 to events firm Happening Conference and Events Ltd for “event costs including fees, catering and promotion”. It also paid Q4 Public Relations €25,750 for providing “PR and communications services”.
Q4 Public Relations is one of the country’s best-known PR agencies and its directors include Jackie Gallagher, Gerry O’Sullivan, Martin Mackin and Angie Kinane.
Former RTÉ Prime Time presenter and founder of Storyful Mark Little was employed as chair. Private sector firms were charged €300 a head and public sector delegates were charged €225.
Students and people from the charity sector were charged €125. The tickets included lunch and refreshments on both days.
The organisers recruited a large number of blue chip ‘partners’, including Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, Linkedin, Twitter, Google, and Accenture.
Other partners included Ibec, the American Chamber of Commerce, Science Foundation Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, and the IDA.
Topics discussed included ‘Data Protection and other Fundamental Rights’, ‘Cloud Computing — the Fourth Industrial Revolution’ and ‘Artificial Intelligence and its Impact on Society’.