“To the community in Dublin I salute you, to all of the people around Ireland that have supported us through the last five years I salute you, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. We’re leaving but we hope to come back in the future,” Mr Cosgrave said in his closing remarks as the Web Summit came to an end last night.
His comments came as a Fine Gael TD criticised the Government’s dealings with the Web Summit organisers, which saw the conference organisers sign a three-year deal for it to be held in Lisbon.
“When we analyse what Mr Cosgrave sought, it was not so mad at all. In fact, his wifi and traffic management requests seem downright reasonable,” said John Deasy, Fine Gael TD for Waterford.
“This country is not yet in a position where we can afford to lose this kind of business. Why were other countries allowed the opportunity to poach this summit? It is clear we did not take the organisers of the Web Summit seriously when they threatened to pull out,” he told the Dáil yesterday.
Another issue highlighted by the summit’s organisers was the price of hotel rooms in the city but yesterday the Irish Hotel Federation (IHF) released a statement defending its position.
“We met and corresponded with the organisers, proposing full access to a dedicated facility for block booking rooms across Dublin. The facility would have provided the organisers with access to advance booking rates for thousands of hotel rooms at very competitive prices,” read the IHF statement.
The IHF then rejected the Web Summit’s claims that Dublin’s hotel rates were too expensive. The federation stated that industry evidence showed that hotel room rates in Dublin were highly competitive for the event.
The average room rate charged by hotels Dublin-wide on the busiest night of this year’s Web Summit on November 3 was €155.
In his closing comments Mr Cosgrave focused on the growth of the conference, that in five years has gone from 1,500 attendees to about 42,000.
“It has been absolutely incredible. All of that change would not have been possible were it not for an incredible community of people in this city, who’ve contributed in so many ways, who have given up their resources, they’ve been so helpful and so incredibly supportive,” he told the packed main hall in the RDS.
Mr Cosgrave said his hope is that the Web Summit will return to Dublin.
“Ireland will always play a role in whatever we create around the world. It’s not just about Web Summit and we’ve a lot more to share with the world. Dublin will always be in our hearts, I absolutely love this city, my team loves this city, our headquarters are going to remain in this city.
“We’re leaving but we’re very, very hopeful that the door will remain open, that we can come back to Ireland and that we can launch more conferences in Ireland and that one day the Web Summit will come back to this fantastic city.”
He then invited the audience to walk to the Department of the Taoiseach under the Walk4Eva campaign, highlighting the fact that under Irish law, 93% of primary schools may operate a Catholic-first admissions policy.