Geldof tells leaders to invest in technology

ANTI-POVERTY campaigner Bob Geldof has warned that the Government is not spending enough on developing new technologies.

Giving cautious backing to two-days of “frankly brutal” brainstorming at Farmleigh House, the rock star -turned activist said he remained unsure over the Global Irish Economic Forum’s potential.

“It was interesting,” the Live Aid founder said.

“Whether it’s useful to people getting jobs and people’s lives getting better and not having to leave the country, the country getting up off its knees and moving on, I’m not sure.

“But it’s an attempt. It’s just a little bit of help.”

The Dubliner was among a guest list of 200 influential Irish figures attending the Phoenix Park estate to drum up ideas to pull the country out of the downturn.

And while he said it wasn’t the place of delegates to criticise the Government, he warned there were suggestions that Ireland should increase its spending on research and development to about 3% of expenditure.

Asked if the banana republic mentality in Ireland that he once famously sang about still exists, he joked: “It always lurks. But I think I got carried away.”

He claimed the world was not enjoying the pace of Ireland’s economic collapse and said all countries were united in attempts to get out of the global recession.

“Outside there isn’t any gloating,” he said.

“Everybody’s been chastened by this and they’re not gloating over Ireland — they’re saying how the hell are you going to get out of this one?”

Geldof said Lisbon had placed too great a burden on Ireland, as the country is the only EU member voting.

“It’s the most important thing? No it’s not, get a grip,” he said.

“Get a few jobs going here and get the economy up and running, that’s what we need to do.”

US Ambassador Dan Rooney said signs of economic recovery will not become evident until the end of next year.

“In America we say that there’s over 40% of people with Irish descent. That’s a special thing so I think the conference is going to be terrific,” he said.

Most of the overseas attendees at the forum have either Irish roots or strong business links with this country.

CRH boss Myles Lee said he “welcomed” NAMA as a necessary step in getting the economy back to growth.

He insisted that recovery in Ireland will take time, and that we “could not talk our way out of this mess; we will have to work our way through it”.

Among other luminaries at Farmleigh this weekend are Niall FitzGerald, for years the boss of Unilever and currently deputy chairman of Thomson Reuters, and Gerry Robinson, chairman of Moto Hospitality, probably best know for his time as boss of Granada TV.

Robinson was knighted in Britain for his services to the arts and business in 2003 and is known for his strong views on tackling the health service, which faces serious cutbacks in the forthcoming budget. The Irish health service needs to hire a leading international executive from outside, on a salary of about €5m or more with a brief to pull the service into shape, come what may, he said.

Dr Pearse Lyons from Dundalk is president of US global animal health company Alltech and sees a big future for Ireland in food technology.

As a major food exporter he says we should focus on developing branded technologies in that area which are “traceable to Ireland” and which would have enormous economic benefits.


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