ANN CAHILL: Forum to focus on diaspora as resource to aid economy

THE Government is to harness the know-how of leading international figures with Irish links to help with the country’s economic recovery.

The plan, announced by Foreign Minister Micheál Martin, is set to invite influential individuals to a conference in Farmleigh in September.

“Our global Irish community constitutes one of the most powerful and far-reaching resources at our disposal and using our worldwide network of embassies and consulates, we have identified some of the most successful individuals from that global community,” said Mr Martin.

“They will bring with them an invaluable global perspective,” he said, adding that the event would be an Irish version of the prestigious Davos Economic Forum in Switzerland.

The Irish diaspora is estimated at 80 million people worldwide when those with close links to the country and those that identify with it are counted.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen is to send out invitations to a relatively small and tightly focused group over the next few weeks, the minister said.

The main aim of the weekend forum will be to generate ideas and discuss practical initiatives to help the country recover from the devastating economic crisis.

The focus will be mainly economic but high-profile individuals from a number of other sectors are being invited as are a small number of Irish-based people.

The forum will also be a step to forming closer links with the Irish diaspora, especially in the economic area.

Mr Martin pointed out that countries like Israel and India have worked very successfully with their diaspora to aid their own development.

“Now is the time to shape a more strategic relationship which will bring benefits both to Ireland and to our global community and which will have a more developed economic focus,” he said, adding that he expected about 100 to 120 to attend.

As such the Global Irish Economic Forum will complement the Ireland-United States Strategic Review, launched by the Taoiseach in New York on March 15 and the strategy for economic renewal outlined in “Building Ireland’s Smart Economy”.


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