Aileen O'Toole, founder of "The Ideas Campaign"
Grow your own fruit and vegetables to rescue the Irish economy! That's just one of thousands of suggestions being e-mailed to an Irish Web site as a a possible solution to the Irish crisis.
The site, ideascampaign.ie, has been bombarded with more than 2,000 suggestions since it was set up on March 5 by Internet consultant Aileen O'Toole.
O'Toole, who was a founder of the Sunday Business Post, is one of Ireland's most successful entrepreneurs.
O'Toole set up the site after a TV appearance in Ireland where she slammed viewers for blaming the Irish Government for the economic collapse.
“It’s easy to say that we blame the government for the economic situation but we have to ask ourselves what we can do to help out,” she says.
The site has also attracted a number of ideas from the Irish Diaspora in the U.S. and around the globe. The rules are very simple. "No whinging," says O'Toole.
“We are swimming in rich ideas, wonderful ideas that have a lot of merit and traffic is coming in from all over the world,” she says. "We are absolutely flying and it’s fantastic,” she says.
Several suggestions relate to the building sites left idle in the wake of the housing collapse. People have proposed renting out unsold houses or using the land as fruit and vegetable allotments.
“It’s a grassroots, independent campaign for citizens, by citizens,” O’Toole said.
The campaign is specifically looking for ideas on how to preserve and increase employment, and find ways to make it easier to do business in Ireland.
The staff include several laid-off IT and PR experts and their aim is to solicit advice from ordinary Irish people.
The site has already attracted some heavyweight attention. An advisory group drawn frome the site will present suggestions to the Irish Government in April.
Speaking on the TV show, “Prime Time,” O’Toole said she was unhappy with the negative coverage surrounding the economy saying that there were plenty of exciting things happening but that they weren't being reported.
She says she has been delighted with the reaction. “People would come up to me in the supermarket and say ‘I don’t know you but I saw you on Prime Time and I agree with what you said.’”
Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Brian Cowen has thrown his full support behind the campaign describing it as a “perfect example of people helping each other out.”
“Ireland needs the combined wisdom of its people focused positively on solutions at this stage - a fantastic resource if it could be harnessed,” Cowen said. He added that he meets people every day who want to “contribute practical ideas to help Ireland overcome the severe economic challenges that it faces.”