Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Whilst it seems, after Saturday's enthralling quarter final in the rugby World Cup, there is very little that Ireland can teach Wales in terms of modern rugby, the same is certainly not true in terms of how to get everyone working together to revitalise an economy.

On Saturday, I wrote about the sterling work of the Irish Technology Leaders Group (ITLG) and mentioned the upcoming Global Irish Economic Summit that was to take place over the weekend in Dublin Castle. 

Following this prestigious event, at which former US President Bill Clinton and a host of others spoke, there are a number of recommendations that have already been announced in the last couple of days. These include:
  • Private sector expertise - ITLG has offered to put together a group of Irish technology leaders to sit on the boards of semi-state companies without charge to help the country weather the current economic storm. They would initially offer to work for free to help run various state bodies until 2016. Once a list of 100 leaders has been completed, it will be made public and handed to the Government, which will be asked to match the executives to positions on the state bodies
  • International placements - 1,000 Irish business graduates are being offered placements with companies, business colleges and language schools in Asia - a number of global companies have now offered funding to sponsor this programme
  • The Gathering - a global Irish “homecoming” which has been billed as the biggest tourism initiative ever staged in Ireland, will be a year-long event in 2013 which aims to attract as many as 325,000 extra visitors into Ireland. This would add €220 million to the Irish economy.
In addition, President Clinton has agreed to play a key role in the fight-back by Irish business and host a New York Irish summit next year to kick start Ireland’s economic recovery with the aid of American investment. 

So, there is a lot of activity going on across the Irish Sea and, more importantly, there is a sense of optimism and hope that the Irish economy can be turned around if everyone works together.

Surely, there is no reason as to why business and government in Wales could not do the same to take advantage of the experience and expertise of the "Cymru ar Wasgar" - the Welsh diaspora.

If there are any doubts about how this can make a difference, then Welsh politicians and policymakers should listen to some of the views of Denis O' Brien, one of Ireland's most successful businesspeople, on how he believes a small economy can be developed in these difficult times.