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Closing Statement by the Tánaiste to the Global Irish Economic Forum

Tánaiste tells Global Irish Economic Forum that the scale of the challenge facing Ireland today is matched by the scale of our effort and our ambition

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore T.D., told the closing session of the second Global Irish Economic Forum this afternoon that the scale of the challenge facing Ireland today is matched by the scale of our effort and our ambition.  The Tánaiste added:

“What matters now, is that we take away the thoughts and ideas of yesterday and today, and turn them into action tomorrow”

The Forum, which took place over two days in Dublin Castle, brought together the members of the Global Irish Network - over 300 of the most influential Irish and Irish-connected individuals from abroad.  The Taoiseach, Tánaiste, Cabinet Ministers and senior representatives from Government Departments and State Agencies took part in the event.  The participants discussed the Government’s priorities for economic renewal, job creation and the restoration of Ireland’s reputation abroad.

The Forum was addressed on Saturday afternoon by President Bill Clinton. In his address, President Clinton announced his intention to convene a special summit for Ireland which will bring together senior business leaders and economic experts aimed at promoting foreign direct investment in Ireland.   He proposed that the summit would be held in New York at a date to be announced in the near future.

The Tánaiste expressed his gratitude to the members of the Forum for the commitment they have shown to this initiative since it was first set up in 2009. He thanked them “for being here, for what (they) have already done, and for what (they) will do in the future”.

The Tánaiste also expressed his gratitude to President Clinton for his commitment to Ireland over many years and, specifically, for his announcement of a special summit on investment in Ireland.  The Tánaiste also acknowledged the offer of ongoing assistance pro bono to the Government from Teneo, the strategic consultancy firm chaired by President Clinton, whose CEO is the former US Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland Declan Kelly.

The full text of the Tánaiste’s remarks follows.


Closing Statement by the Tánaiste to the Global Irish Economic Forum
Dublin Castle, 8 October 2011

Taoiseach, President Clinton, Ladies and Gentlemen

We have come to the end of two great days of analysis and discussion.  I certainly don’t intend to prolong proceedings much further.  What matters now, is that we take away the thoughts and ideas of yesterday and today, and turn them into action tomorrow.

This place, Dublin Castle, where we have spent this time together, has been at the heart of Irish History for a thousand years.  The Garden outside is the site of the original Dubh Linn, or dark pool, that gives this great city its name.  Across the hallway is the room from which James Connolly was taken to be executed at Kilmainham.  The yard below is where Michael Collins arrived to take over the administration of a free Ireland.  The very stones in the walls around us are part of the fabric of our country’s history.

What that history tells us, is that each generation of the Irish, has had a burning desire to define its own destiny.  We have, deep within us, a wish to write our own chapter in the history of Ireland.  To define ourselves and what we stand for.

We have taken that wish, that desire, with us, where-ever we have gone.  We have made the Irish story part of the history of so many other nations.

This generation is no different.  We have spoken several times in the past two days about the forthcoming centenary of 1916. And rightly so.  But it’s not enough to think of the next 5 years.  We must also think about the next 50. 

As we leave here, let us ask ourselves this question: How will we be judged, 50 years from now, by a generation of historians not yet born?What will the next chapter in long history of our country say of us? 

That we rose to the challenge?  That we faced up to our difficulties?  That out of our problems, and yes, mistakes, we built a better Ireland.  That we had the same resilience and courage of the generations before us, to define something new.

An Ireland proud of its past, but confident of its future. 

An Ireland, truly global in its outlook and its commitment

An Ireland worthy of the talents and skills and energy and courage and generosity of its people.

We all know these are difficult times.  We should admit that mistakes were made.   We cannot change the past.  But we can define the future.  We are the heirs of a heritage that is beyond riches, but what we hand on to the next generation is in our hands. 

Let the history books say of our time and of our generation, that our problems were great, but our service and our ambition were greater.

President Clinton – Thank You.  You are, and have been, one of Ireland’s greatest friends.  I don’t have to tell you of the warm esteem in which you are held by the Irish people.  Thank you for being here today, and thank you for your new initiative in bringing the message about Ireland to a new audience.

I want to thank President McAleese, who was out guest of honour last night.  My thanks too, to the Taoiseach and my colleagues in Government for their commitment to this event.  I want to pay tribute to my outstanding colleagues in the Department of Foreign Affairs who have worked tirelessly to make this happen, to RTE and to everyone in Dublin Castle.

But most of all, I want to thank all of you, the members of the global Irish forum.  For being here, for what you have already done, and for what I know you will do in the future.

What matters now, is what happens next.  So, thank you, and let’s take the work forward.