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MoS Ciarán Cannon, TD - Official Opening of Gifted – the Contemporary Craft & Design Fair 2018

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

I am honoured and delighted to join you here today.

Christmas is only a short few weeks away, and there is no better way to get yourself into the festive spirit than by doing some Christmas shopping!

I would like to commend Patrick O’Sullivan and the team for the sterling work that they have done in organising this event.

It is by no means an easy task to organise something of this scale, so it truly is a wonderful achievement.

Design is a big part of what makes us who we are as a nation. It is part of our tradition and heritage, and it deserves to be supported, so thank you for your huge efforts.

This Fair has been running for more than thirty years, which is a testament to the high standard of the event, and the top-quality products available.

We are very lucky here in Ireland to have so much talent on our doorstep.

When you walk around the stalls here today, you get a true sense of the quality, innovation, and talent of our designers and makers.

But as important as talent is, it is only half of the story.

In order to keep the sector alive and kicking, we also need to cultivate an appreciation for that talent, which is why events like this are so important.

There’s no doubt about it - the best thing about this Fair is how accessible it is, whether you are young, old or anything in between.

The products cover a broad range of jewellery, accessories, fashion, homewares, children’s gifts, photography and art.

And no matter what aspect of design appeals to you - the modern or the traditional - there is something here for you.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind visitors that by buying gifts here this week, you are not just picking out a thoughtful present, you are helping to support jobs right across the country.

Because, from an enterprise perspective, I am very mindful that the design industry provides skilled jobs in every region of Ireland.

More than 6,000 people are employed in this sector, including in rural areas, and it has huge potential to grow into the future.

Your custom will help us to make this happen.

It’s great to see so many returning designers and makers here this year, and I am delighted that we are also welcoming a number of new participants.

Through your participation, you are not only showcasing your own business; you are also supporting the entire sector.

Because, in the words of the businessman, James Cash Penney:

“Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.”

I am also very pleased that the five winners of the RDS Craft Awards are displaying their work, representing some of the best emerging talent in this country.

Overall, it is fantastic to see such a great mix of experience and new talent represented here.

This includes several members of the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland, which comes under the remit of our Department.

Indeed, I would like to commend Karen and the wonderful staff at the Council for working with Patrick and his team to develop a Selected Gifts Area at the Fair, which puts together over 130 of the best gifts this season.

There is something there to suit everyone - even the most difficult person to buy for in your life.

You can always trust Karen and the gang to get it right!

The Council does amazing work in supporting those working in the sector, and I know that Minister Humphreys was delighted to allocate an additional €1.8m to them for next year, to boost their hugely important activities.

On a related note, the Minister was also pleased to announce over €1.8m in funding through the Regional Enterprise Development Fund on Monday to establish a Design Innovation Hub in Carlow and Kilkenny, a project that will enable companies to use design processes when developing new products and services.

But back to today –

The fact that this event has been running for so many years is proof that we do have that appreciative spirit I mentioned earlier here in Ireland.

We appreciate quality, we appreciate uniqueness, and we are proud of our homegrown talent.

This is clear alone from the fact that 45,000 visitors are expected to visit the Fair this year.

I wish all the designers and makers every success over the next few days.

I have no doubt but that the visitors will be blown away by the talent on display - and here’s hoping they leave with empty pockets!

And with that, I am happy to declare Gifted – the Contemporary Craft and Design Fair 2018 – open.

Go raibh mile maith agaibh.

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