Impressive list of busy people converge for business think-in
A two-day think-in begins in Dublin Castle tomorrow morning, which will bring together some of the most influential Irish people together with some of the country's most high-profile friends.
Bill Clinton will chair proceedings on Saturday while everyone from Dermot Desmond to U2's Paul McGuinness and retail billionaire Galen Weston are due to attend.
The opening panel, which includes Enda Kenny, European Commission secretary general Catherine Day and Peter Sutherland, gives a flavour of the event, but why are so many busy people attending the €300,000 event at their own cost and what do they expect to get out of it? Patrick Murphy will be skipping Thanksgiving in Canada with his wife and daughters this weekend in order to attend.
"I'm not very popular with them right now," says the son of Tayto crisps founder Joe Murphy. He says he will be looking for people in the food business who want to export to Canada and trying to learn from the other guests.
"The list is very impressive. I don't know why they invited me," he jokes. "I can learn a lot from this, it offers me a real networking opportunity."
Ireland can learn a lot from Canada about common sense and value for money, he adds.
"The value equation ceased to exist for a while but it's come back," he says of the country he left 30 years ago but still visits regularly.
Helen Lambert, who owns a fashion company in Paris, hopes the forum will produce "good ideas the country can use".
A Tipperary woman who runs a successful fashion label with offices in London and New York, she will be speaking on a cultural panel about the new Centre Culturel Irlandais, which promotes Irish culture in France.
More than 300 people from 37 countries have accepted the Government's invitation to attend the conference at their own cost although they won't have to pay for the state banquet tomorrow night hosted by President McAleese. The weekend event is a follow-on from the 2009 shindig at Farmleigh House in the Phoenix Park.