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The Celtic Comeback begins as President Clinton leads an Irish charge --Powerful Fortune 500 leaders show way forward for Irish economy

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Bill Clinton pictured alongside Irish leaders yesterday in New York

Mark February 9th as the day the Celtic Comeback began.

That was the day in New York that former President Bill Clinton gathered the rich and powerful in American business and delivered them on a silver platter for the Irish government leaders including Prime MinisterEnda Kenny and Foreign Minster Eamon Gilmore as well as Jobs Minister Richard Bruton.

Clinton was delivering on a commitment made in September when he attended the Irish Diaspora Economic Forum in Dublin and promised to pull out the stops in an effort to help out Ireland's foundering economy.

On Thursday he delivered, filling a meeting hall at New York University with 25 top executives eager to hear about investing in Ireland .

The president was eager to share his insights that Ireland, like the US, has one of the youngest demographics in the western world and that the educational level is among the highest. People are investing not just for the present but for the future he stated. Many companies were now looking overseas again and Ireland had to get on their radar.

Robert Rubin, his former Treasury Secretary, was there and made a valuable contribution.

Rubin stated he had not really studied the Irish situation until a few weeks ago but he believed the country was dealing with its problems in an admirable manner.

Also there were top executives from Merck, Dow Chemical, Bank of America.

The morning meeting on the 8th floor at NYU university bore the hallmarks of a well-rehearsed sales job.

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First up were CEO's from companies with operations in Ireland telling those thinking of investing there how well they had done.

Leading that charge was Donald Keough, the legendary former president of Coca Cola, who pioneered the multinational invasion in Ireland back in the 1970s.

When Keough talks people listen. These days he is Chairman of Allen and Company, the powerful investment bank, and no one does more to promote his beloved Ireland.

Wilbur Ross the billionaire investor and turnaround specialist seemingly believes in the Irish mission also, as he was vocal in his support of what the Irish government has done to combat the tide of negative news.

After the meeting the three Irish government leaders repaired down one flight of stairs to address 100 leaders in the Irish American community on the Irish economy.

There were joined by Clinton who offered a reprise of the remarks he had made upstairs.

Loretta Brennan Glucksman of the American Ireland Fund praised the IDA, the Irish industrial development agency for the amazing work they continued to do attracting jobs and also the government's emphasis on the importance of philanthropy.

Not coincidentally, IDA news of 485 new jobs in various parts of Ireland was made public on Thursday.

I asked the Irish leader and his colleagues what was the best advice they had heard and the most common criticism at their meeting.

Enda Kenny stated that telling the truth about the financial morass, not gilding the lily and telling it straight was the best advice and one he was adhering to.

Foreign Minister Gilmore stated that the most common criticism was not focusing enough on the skill of the workers themselves who got very high marks from the multinational leaders for their commitment to the job.

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