Jobs Minister Richard Bruton: We'll get other conferences to successfully replace Web Summit
OTHER major conferences that will be seen as replacing Web Summit in Dublin will emerge, Jobs Minister Richard Bruton has predicted.
The minister today rejected claims that Enterprise Ireland and the IDA did not use the event effectively to attract business.
And he said: “I am sure there will be successors to the Web Summit in Dublin, because Dublin has such a vibrant environment. Just as we supported it in the past, we will support such an initiative again.”
The row between the Government and the organisers of the event was raised in the Dáil today where Mr Bruton defended the Government’s record and said his department and agencies were focused on more than just Web Summit.
“We do not work in a blaze of publicity; rather, we work confidentially with companies to develop programmes,” he said.
“My Department and agencies use a range of opportunities to showcase Ireland by hosting or partnering in national and international events that support our overarching policy objectives across our core programmes of enterprise, innovation and regulation.”
He noted that over 800 people from 43 countries attended the Med in Ireland event last week.
“Both my ministerial colleagues and I, along with the agencies of my Department, also participate in many third-party events that take place in Ireland, similar to the Web Summit, and we will continue to provide assistance and attendance where appropriate, “ he said.
Sinn Féin’s Peadar Tóibin described the Web Summit as “one of the most important business events in the State”.
“Not only does it bring about 40,000 people to Dublin city but it also offers start-ups and an opportunity to network with tech leaders and venture capitalists who are looking to invest money,” he said.
“The loss of the Web Summit is not only a loss of revenue to the capital but is also a huge blow to Irish start-ups and the country's reputation.”
Mr Bruton refused to comment on whether the Web Summit should pay back more than €700,000 it received from the State, which has been labelled “hush money” by Summit co-founder Paddy Cosgrave.
Business and Employment Minister Ged Nash yesterday said that if “Paddy Cosgrave considers that hush money, I'm sure the State would be happy to take that back and invest it in small start-ups that could do with the additional supports”.
“Paddy is entitled to his view of the world and everyone is…I heard Ged Nash made that joking comment, I think I won’t give that legs,” Mr Bruton said shortly after arriving at the RDS.
He said it was “obviously disappointing” that the Summit is leaving Dublin but said Ireland and Dublin will continue to be “a very vibrant entrepreneurship space”. He said Government agencies had used the Summit consistently over the years to try and make contacts and deliver returns for the country.
He said building a new venue that might host the Web Summit in future was not on the State’s agenda, adding that Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe has set out a number of “ambitious” transport plans.
Mr Cosgrave has said the Web Summit has become too big for Dublin.