There have been three Global Irish Economic Forums to date; 2009, 2011 and 2013.
The first Forum took place in 2009 as a response to the deepening economic crisis at the time. It brought together members of the Diaspora and the Government who were tasked to come up with new and innovative ways to help lift the country out of recession. This first Forum recommended the establishment of the Global Irish Network, which was set up in 2010.
Subsequent Forums took place in 2011 and 2013 and built on the work of the first. The focus of these was on generating ideas for economic renewal, restoring our reputation overseas and creating jobs across a range of sectors. The themes for the 2013 Forum were based on the Action Plan for Jobs agenda and the outcomes, where possible, have been included in the 2014 Action Plan. Recommendations such as the Year of Irish Design in 2015, the placement of Origin Green ambassadors, the development of an agency to market Irish agri-business expertise globally, increased on-line trading for SME’s and initiatives around Smart Ageing, among others, will all be taken forward in this context.
Other ideas arising from the Forum have been taken forward independently by members of the Global Irish Network. An idea for a new third level institution for the arts came out of the first Forum in 2009, and earlier this year, Uversity, a recognised college of the National College of Ireland, launched an MA programme in Creative Process with a choice of modules from 24 partner institutions. The various Forums have also provided launch pads for other initiatives such as the Gathering, Connect Ireland and Limerick City of Culture.
To date, over 100 Global Irish Network members have signed up to provide mentoring and advice to Irish SME’s through the Global Irish Contacts Programme run by Enterprise Ireland. On a day to day basis Global Irish Network members provide the network of Embassies and State Agency offices with advice on sectoral and regional issues, they facilitate high level access to decision makers, encourage Foreign Direct Investment and help promote Ireland as a destination for both tourism and education.
It is not possible to quantify how many jobs have been created as a direct result of the Global Irish Economic Forum. However, I am confident that the impact of these events, together with the ongoing work of the members of the Global Irish Network, has been a significant factor in the restoration of our reputation abroad and the consequent economic benefits to Ireland.