Oct 13

Entrepreneurs Top Bill as Enda Wonders if He’s Been Upstaged

PERHAPS the stern influence of Angela Merkel is finally rubbing off on Ireland’s shakers and movers. Whereas the two previous meetings of the Global Irish Economic Forum (GIEF) in 2009 and 2011 had a bit of a glamorous vibe to them, with all sorts of business bigwigs hobnobbing with starry showbiz types in the luxurious surrounds of Farmleigh, this year’s event is a more low-key, workmanlike affair.

This time around there were no Clintons or Geldofs – instead the guest list bristled with entrepreneurs, CEOs of multinationals, founders of tech start-ups, philanthropists and a gaggle of government ministers. On his way into the forum early yesterday morning, the Tanaiste and host of the two-day event was at pains to emphasise that the forum wasn’t just a talking-shop but was a serious project to produce job-creation initiatives.

“This is about looking at the plan for post-recession Ireland,” he explained, adding that the first forum which took place during the height of the recessionary tempest in 2009 was “a cry for help”.

The first day was a mixture of speeches, panel discussions and working groups, but in among the business heads were some colourful characters, including Nora Higgins – chair of the Southwark Irish Pensioners Project in London.

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