Irish Gathering slammed for inviting expats home to celebrate

Irish Gathering slammed for inviting expats home to celebrate

Irish Gathering slammed for inviting expats home to celebrate

The Gathering, a celebration planned for 2013 to celebrate Ireland’s rich culture and history, is being slammed both in the media and in Dublin’s parliament for enticing Irish expat to return home and spend their money.

Actor Gabriel Byrne’s initial scathing comments on the event were repeated at Dublin’s recent City Council Meeting by several city councillors angry at what they perceive as a money-making sham rather than a true cultural experience. Byrne’s remarks took centre stage at the meeting, backed up by Councillor Brid Smith and others.

Smith branded the event as an excuse to draw Irish expats back to their home country just to spend money, saying it was ironic that the government and the Tourist Board should think of attracting people back for a visit when tens of thousands were forced to leave to find work overseas. She added the government would better invest the cost of the event in creating jobs and improving infrastructure.

Other concerned councillors agreed, asking whether the organisers of the gathering had considered creating any new jobs by linking business people in Ireland and the US. Councillor Mannix Flynn told the meeting he was unenthusiastic about the project as it seemed to promise few returns for the expense of staging it.

Flynn compared the Gathering to the recent Dublin Contemporary Tourism Initiative, another costly project which failed to generate revenue, adding that the only result of the Gathering was likely to be howls of laughter. Flynn ended by saying it was no more than just another exercise to justify the existence of the Tourist Board.

Previously, Bord Failte had represented the intiative as a movement rather than an event, encouraging Irish people to invite their overseas relatives back to take part by sending every home in the country a brochure about the event. The aim was to raise the visitor total by 325,000 and increase tourism revenue exponentially.

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