Bill Clinton is to host a New York Irish summit next year to kick start Ireland’s economic recovery with the aid of American investment.
The former U.S. President announced at the Global Irish Economic Forum at Dublin Castle that he will gladly stage a similar event in the U.S. in 2012.
Assuring the star studded gathering of political and industry leaders from home and abroad that Ireland’s economy will recover, Clinton has offered to play a key role in the fight-back by Irish business.
Among those present were Bono and the Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, as well as Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore.
The summit will be hosted by Teneo, a merchant bank headed by former U.S. Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland, Declan Kelly.
Clinton serves on the advisory board for Teneo.
Clinton believes American investment is key to an Irish return and will do all he can to aid the process, starting with next year’s summit in the USA.
Offering to host the meeting of business, cultural and political leaders, President Clinton said: “I’d be happy to host a meeting like this in the US. We’d like to do this, to bring people together and see what they can do to help.”
Assuring a star studded gathering of industry leaders from all walks of life that Ireland will recover, Clinton stressed: “The only question is when and how.”
The key note speaker at the two day forum in Dublin Castle, President Clinton added: “Not one person informed about the world economy has a moment’s doubt that Ireland will regain its economic footing.
“The country has a lot going for it. Ireland is a great exporting nation. It is the country that built the most successful economy in Europe with a Diaspora that adores you and the youngest workforce in Europe.
“I know a lot of people in Ireland are discouraged, but the rest of the world thinks you’re pretty great. You need to play on that.”
Adamant that Ireland Inc is headed in the right direction, President Clinton outlined his support for the decision to guarantee the banks.
“That was the right decision as it made business people want to be here,” he stressed whilst urging the politicians present to really tackle the issue of mortgage debt.
Welcoming Ireland’s focus on exports, the former President urged the Irish government to develop business with emerging markets like India and Brazil.
He also called for a greater focus on investment in renewable energy.
“Every billion dollars spent in this field will generate up to 8,000 jobs while paying for itself,” he added. “If you’ve got somebody who can finance it you can guarantee a return.”
Speaking from America’s own experience, President Clinton urged his audience to be positive about the future.
“You can’t do the dozens of things that you need to do if you are paralyzed by disappointment,” he said as he urged Ireland to beat the five to ten year norm for overcoming a recession.
“Being despairing is not an option, just a decision to be disappointed. I am concerned for those below a certain age who have never experienced collective failure before.
“Too many young people feel like they are a failure because they never experienced collective failure. But no one had any doubt in America that they could emerge from the Great Depression. JFK would never have been elected if people were gripped with doubt.”
Then President Clinton issued a battle cry for the Irish economy’s bid to recover.
“In order to win this deal, you’ve got to put your game face on,” he insisted.