Government was ‘happy to support and grow Web Summit’

The Government, Dublin City Council, the RDS, and the body representing the hotel industry have all responsed to claims outlined in correspondences between the Web Summit founder and the Taoiseach’s office.

While refusing to be drawn on claims that the Taoiseach’s office gave a “deliberately misleading” response to the summit’s requests and that “no attempt has been made by the Government” to meet with summit founder Paddy Cosgrave, a spokeswoman said that Government agencies “have been happy to support the Web Summit and help it grow in scale each year”.

“Regarding the documents released today, they are a selection of rather than a full account of contact between the summit and Government and its agencies,” the spokeswoman said.

She added that IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland gave a combined €725,900 to the Web Summit between 2012 and 2014 and that “significant financial and non-financial support” was also given by other agencies including Fáilte Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland, Dublin City Council, Bord Bia, and Culture Ireland.

The Taoiseach said the Web Summit “are fully entitled to make their decision” but “I expect that that vacuum will be filled by others in a relatively short time”.

“I spoke to Paddy myself, actually, when he was in Portugal, saying we would offer every assistance that we can in terms of what Government could do here,” he said. “It wasn’t Government writing a cheque for this but being very supportive, very encouraging all along the line.”

The Irish Hotels Federation rejected Mr Cosgrave’s claims of ‘price gouging’ by hotels during the event.

“Dublin hotels have worked with the Web Summit to provide the organisers with advance block bookings for thousands of competitively priced rooms over the course of the three-day event,” a spokesman said.

Mr Cosgrave’s correspondence also contained complaints about the wifi services at the RDS, the summit’s host venue: “The facilities in the RDS require such significant additional build that the true costs of the venue are substantially greater than elsewhere in Europe where state- of-the-art facilities are standard.”

The RDS said he made “baseless assertions regarding the RDS approach to wi-fi supply”, that it invested €3m in its ICT infrastructure and its network “puts us in the top tier of connectivity for venues across Europe.”

A Dublin City Council statement said: “[It] has been very supportive of the Web Summit... and everything possible and within reason was done to facilitate it.

“This year a senior official in the City Council took on the specific role of trying to get a more co-ordinated approach to the event not just from within Dublin City Council but including all the other external agencies and Government departments. ”

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