180 leading figures to attend think-in

FOREIGN Affairs Minister Micheál Martin has announced that 180 international thinkers and business experts will attend the Global Irish Economic Forum in Dublin later this month.

The minister said up to 150 of the 180 have already confirmed their attendance at the event in Farmleigh in the Phoenix Park on September 18-20 and each will cover their own expenses for the trip, he said.

The purpose of the two day event is to explore, along with Government ministers, how the Irish at home and abroad, particularly those with a strong interest in Ireland, “can work together to contribute to our overall efforts at economic recovery”, he said.

Invitees were sent personal letters from Taoiseach Brian Cowen in April and the minister said the response “was extremely encouraging”.

Mr Martin said the commitment of those who will be attending reflected “the enduring willingness of the Irish abroad to engage with and support Ireland”.

Key figures will travel from the US, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, China, Argentina, Europe and the Middle East. They include Craig Barrett, retired chief executive and chairman of Intel; Alan Joyce, Qantas chief executive; Loretta Brennan Glucksman, chairwoman of the American Ireland Fund; Kip Condron, AXA Financial chief executive; musician Bob Geldoff; Moya Doherty, Tyrone Productions director; US Ambassador Dan Rooney; and Dennis Swanson, Fox Television Stations president.

Mr Martin said these are people “who exemplify the ‘remarkable combination of hope, confidence and imagination’ which President John Fitzgerald Kennedy called ‘the quality of the Irish’”.

The forum will explore “how the Irish at home and abroad who have a strong interest in Ireland can work together and contribute to our overall efforts at economic recovery”.

He identified green issues as being of huge importance going forward. He said green technology will be one of the dominant global themes of the next decade and is a key area he wants to see tackled during the two day event.

Attendees will be divided into groups which will discuss topics and ideas judged to have the greatest relevance to the future growth of the economy, he said.

The minister said the idea of the forum was floated by economic commentator David McWilliams, who suggested a platform based on the World Economic Forum would make sense during these difficult times.

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