Actor Gabriel Byrne has again slammed The Gathering, the year-long event based on an Irish homecoming for the Irish abroad.
During an interview in New York last month, Byrne told Today FM's "The Last Word" that most Irish “don’t give a sh*t about the Diaspora except to shake them down for a few quid.” He also called it a "scam".
Speaking in Dublin last night, Byrne re-iterated his criticsm and said there was a real need for a proper relationship with the Diaspora
“I think the bulk of what I was saying about nurturing and developing a real relationship with a very complex group of emigrants is absolutely essential.
"As one guy said to me: ‘stop calling us tourists. We’re exiles, we’re emigrants’. Who am I to keep people from coming to the country? I was merely reflecting the opinions of people I have met in America.”
Byrne also attacked the Gathering for launching at the Guinness Storehouse, and criticised Arthur’s Day which commemorates Arthur Guinness with nationwide celebrations.
“Arthur’s Day, what was the point of that nonsense? That was a cynical piece of exercise in a country which has a huge drinking problem,” he said.
Damon Blake of The Gathering, Dublin, disagreed with Byrne’s comments,”It’s a tourism initiative to have those who are or love the Irish return here in 2013, an initiative that is not being dictated by a governing body, merely enabled and supported by it. Like any group exercise, the outcome and results of it will be determined by the desire and input of the people involved.“