On Tuesday, February 7th, 2012, An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny addressed over 200 supporters of The Ireland Funds. This event was held to thank supporters of the Promising Ireland Campaign and to recognise the important work of the organisations we support throughout Ireland. We were delighted to have representatives from many of these organisations with us on the evening.
This is a period of great challenge in Ireland. However, we are seeing extraordinary people meeting huge need in many wonderful organisations. The Ireland Funds and our supporters are committed to helping these great people and their teams to continue to make a real impact on the ground.
We have been delighted to welcome the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste to a number of our events in the past year. They have consistently highlighted the importance of the work we do for Ireland.
Address by An Taoiseach at The Ireland Funds Gathering in the RHA, Dublin 7th February 2012
Kieran McLoughlin, Hugo MacNeill, ladies and gentlemen, it is an honour and a privilege for me to address you here this afternoon. I am delighted to see so many of you here and I greatly appreciate you taking the time to be with us.
Kieran, Hugo, I think the key to your success is through your ability to adapt and evolve to listen, to understand and to engage with communities’ right across this land.
I took the time on Sunday morning to call to Union Hall in Cork and I evidenced the absolute depth of quality Irish-ness in people from all walks of life arrived down there to search for lost souls on the seabed. People handed over the keys of their houses to perfect strangers and said stay there for as long as you wish while you do this work and those women in those parishes came together with 24 hour sustenance right across the board – all walks of life – quite incredible. The footprint that you make with The Ireland Fund is imprinted on their minds too. I think that’s critical.
So the twelve chapters across the world and throughout the US, from Boston to Washington, another in Canada and I understand places like Asia, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Your membership connects the Irish Diaspora. I hope that before Saint Patricks Day we’ll be in a position to actually demonstrate an example of that by connection not only outward but also inward, there is clearly potential for Ireland here.
We celebrate your generosity this evening with the distribution of $1million to 117 charitable voluntary, community organisations in fields that are as diverse as culture, sport reconciliation, education, and support for the elderly, youth work and health, in practically every county in Ireland. Well done, well done. You are to be thanked and appreciated and I do that on behalf of the people, that is why I am here.
And to those recipients of The Ireland Funds, you are quality people, you do quality work. It goes without saying that whatever is allocated is going to be put to the very best use. I think though that the commitment that you have already outlined $83 million is fabulous. Fantastic is the word most people would use, I prefer fabulous, it gives more weight to it.
A clear example of the commitment of The Funds’ members like yourself Kieran, Loretta, Hugo all who attended last October’s Global Irish Economic Forum, we’re following through on that, there were some absolutely brilliant ideas put forward by people who mean business for Ireland and who want to see that followed up and we are doing that and will do it and demonstrate it wasn’t a wasted effort in people coming here who are leading members of our Diaspora abroad, who look back at this little island and say there is all this potential if we can only just harness it in a way that will make a massive impact.
So the Government identified twelve initiatives from that forum we will have prioritised these between now and the end of March next year. They include developing a Global Irish Diaspora network of mentoring and support for exporters supporting small business with access to capital and looking at specific measures that will improve access to Ireland for those seeking to study and to do business here using the air of flexibility for investment. All I can say to you is that in the last months I have met so many organisations and interested people in this country who want to invest here, who want to do business with us and the charge, I suppose, for government is to have a fixed time on when we can get these things done and one of the things I understand now is that the leverage of the office of the Taoiseach is important but it is of greater importance to drive through decisions and follow them through for the process of cabinet sub committees, it requires timelines, it requires access, it requires effectiveness, we are trying to get away from the sort of perception that you make a decision and nothing happens, well as far as I’ concerned we make decisions it better happen and follow through.
Now tomorrow I’m going to New York where President Clinton who is organising as he said he would organise at the Global Irish Forum, an Invest in Ireland Forum. Myself and the Tainaiste and the Minister for Jobs and Enterprise Mr Bruton will talk to senior executives about what we have to offer in this country, about the circumstances we find ourselves in and about the way this ship of state has turned in the right direction. Were silently confident, we have a very long way to go. There is slow but steady progress being made here. We are recognised internationally. So it is an opportunity for me and members of the cabinet to interact directly with some of the serious players in global finance and global investment and global business. So I want to make the best of that.
I think that the personality of Ireland is critical in this business of connections. We are a pragmatic people, we are a curious people, and we are an inquisitive people. It makes us stand out amongst our international colleagues, because normally statistics is just that, business. It might be something else entirely different that makes an indelible imprint for good and in that sense we want to build on all of that with these people and prove my own philosophy for some time now that by 2016 this will be the best country in the world in which to live.
You get challenged sometimes by the extent of ideas that come at you from people who have really good things to offer and if you could put them all down and say, do that, I want that done by tomorrow, you’d say we’re making real progress here. Often times it’s just not that easy. But I have to say there is a wealth of good will and depth of good will that is out there is enormous.
Now to go back where I started Kieran and Hugo, what you are doing with The Ireland Funds and the Promising Ireland Campaign is so fabulous for us as a people and this country and its not handouts as it were, this is cooperation and investment in the potential of the recipients and of The ireland Funds here and I think that is to be admired. And to those who make these contributions of the $83million that you have put together already on this philanthropic forum, I pay them deep respect and our heartfelt thanks on behalf of the people of Ireland. And in so far as it falls to me to be a supporter of The Ireland Fund, you’ve got a big supporter here. And on every occasion that we can mention this, where it should be mentioned, we will be happy to do so, including I might add in New York when I get there tomorrow.
So our global Irish family remains our greatest asset and we are immensely proud of the work that you do. Thank you for your attendance, thank you for coming here, know that the work that you are doing is not forgotten by Government and is most certainly not forgotten by the recipients some of whom I see here this evening. They are our future; you know we need all hands on deck here. You are playing a brilliant role long may you continue to do so; you have my support from Government level down. Thank you very much.