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Tánaiste takes part in founders conference

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore T.D. will address the f.ounders conference in Dublin Castle this evening, Saturday 29 October.  The text of the Tánaiste’s speech can be read below.

The F.ounders international conference is taking place in parallel with the Dublin Web Summit.  It is being attended by some 200 of the world’s top tech company founders as well as top investors and guest speakers.  It isorganised with the support of the Irish Government and State Agencies including the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Culture Ireland, Fáilte Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland.   

Yesterday, the Tánaiste attended the conference and met technology entrepreneurs and investors from emerging markets including India, Singapore and Russia who are in Dublin for the event.  The Tánaiste took part in discussions on how Ireland can best position itself to secure investment by the tech industry and to create conditions for indigenous tech companies to flourish here.

Speaking afterwards the Tánaiste said:

“I am pleased to have had the opportunity to emphasise to key industry leaders Ireland’s strength in cutting-edge innovative businesses and to highlight our supportive environment for dynamic technology companies.  I am looking forward to addressing the conference tomorrow evening and to promoting Ireland as a location for tech investors in this area”. 


Speech by the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade

at the f.ounders Conference 2011

Dublin Castle

Saturday 29 October


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Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen, and welcome to Dublin.

I hope that you have enjoyed your time here over the past couple of days.  Ours is a great city, and we’re proud of it.

It is a city renowned for its literature, playwrights, culture and creativity. A town which has inspired generations of writers from Joyce to Yeats to Beckett to Roddy Doyle. In fact, the novelist Anne Enright, has claimed that ‘In other towns, clever people go out and make money. In Dublin, clever people go home and write their books.’ But of course, these days in Dublin, home of Facebook, Linked In, Google, Pay Pal and many successful Irish software companies, the really, really clever people go home and write code. 

I know that one of the unique attractions of the f.ounders conference is its mix of work and play – or rather, in this instance, work and Guinness – and I want to congratulate Paddy Cosgrave and his team for what has been a truly engaging and exciting programme.  I hope that you have all found your experience here, and the contacts you have made, both professionally rewarding, and personally enjoyable. 

For ourselves, we are glad to have the opportunity to show you the real Ireland.  An Ireland that has one of the highest concentrations of ICT activity in the world.  An Ireland that has one of the youngest populations in Europe, with one of the highest levels of participation in third level education.  An Ireland where, as previous attendee and founder of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, said when he was in Dublin last year, the “thriving thread of entrepreneurship” runs through.

It’s no secret that Ireland’s reputation took some battering in the wake of the global financial crisis.  We know what was said about us.  But they’re not saying it any more.

It’s been a tough three years – any of the Irish people you met over the weekend could tell you that – but the message is out:  Ireland has dealt decisively with its banking crisis; we are taking the tough decisions necessary to close the gap between what we earn, and what we spend; and we’re putting jobs front and centre.  And not just the jobs of today, but the kind of jobs we want Irish people to be doing, and creating, in the future.

That’s where you come in.

Ireland knows, possibly better than anywhere, the transformative power of technology.  Ours is an economy that has jumped from coal to cloud in little more than a generation. 

Ireland is already home to some of the biggest technology players in the world.  As well as the companies I mentioned earlier, we are host to HP, Intel and Microsoft; Twitter, eBay and Electronic Arts – the list goes on and on.

We are in the business of attracting new businesses to Ireland – another three US-based companies, Engine Yard, Pinger and Commence, have just announced they are establishing their European headquarters here – and of fostering more creative, dynamic home-grown software companies.

But we want to go further.  The kind of critical mass of ICT activity that exists in Ireland offers exciting opportunities for collaboration, right across the breadth of our economy.  From pharma and health sciences – where we are also a world leader – to renewable energy, to food production and the arts and tourism – innovation through technology can take our existing strengths to new heights, and to new markets.  There are opportunities here, in an economy that will emerge from this recession leaner, more flexible, and more competitive.  My message to you tonight is that, as a Government, we recognise those opportunities, and our door is always open to you.

Of course, technology is more than the engine of economic growth:  it is a catalyst for profound social change. 

As Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, I saw the power of social media as we watched the Arab Spring unfold across the Middle East. I have seen how it is used as the most effective communication tool in disaster-stricken areas. I have seen how it opens up Government, by creating the kind of two-way conversation that democracy is supposed to be.

As the internet capital of Europe, we in Ireland believe that we have something positive to add to that global conversation.

Next year, Ireland will chair the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, an organisation of 56 States which stretches from Vancouver to Vladivostok.  It is the world’s largest regional security organisation, but unique in that respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms is at the heart of its concept of security.

Ireland has chosen to use its year-long Chairmanship to champion internet freedom.  After all, the right to freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, and applies to the internet exactly as it does to all other means of communication. We want to work with you in the tech industry to ensure that the internet remains open.  Next June, Ireland will be hosting a conference on internet freedom for representatives of OSCE Governments, and we hope that we can count on your support and powers of persuasion to help get this message out. Volunteers for key-note speeches are particularly welcome!

One of the great things about the f.ounders conference is the gathering together of so many people of vision.  People who saw opportunity around corners others didn’t even know existed.  The second great thing is how much potential exists here, in this room, for good.  For progress.  For enriching people’s lives and expanding our horizons, culturally, economically, politically.  In short, for doing things better, and for more people.

In my opinion, that is what good Government is about too. There is a real opportunity for Government and the technology industry to work together to achieve common goals, not just in our economic development, but also for a better society, and more sustainable environment.

I met with some of you yesterday morning and we discussed how Ireland can best position itself for the new challenges and opportunities in the global tech industry. I know that you will have heard from many of my colleagues, including the Taoiseach, and the State agencies throughout the course of your two days here.  And we have heard you, your ideas, and your suggestions. What is more, we hope to hear more from you over the coming months and years.  Whether back in Ireland to do business, or to sample more of our hospitality – you will be warmly welcomed either way.

Go raibh míle maith agaibh.