Expert pool to work for free
Business chiefs make Government an offer it can't refuse
THE Government has been offered the services of more than 100 top-ranking business chiefs to help run state agencies free of charge.
Speaking at the opening day of the Global Irish Economic Forum yesterday, entrepreneur John Harnett said that a group of Irish technology leaders would be happy to sit on the boards of semi-state companies without charge to help the country weather the current economic storm. They would initially offer to work for free to help run various state bodies until 2016
Barry O'Sullivan, senior vice-president at US technology firm Cisco, said the idea was already getting an enthusiastic response from the Government, although there had yet to be a formal approach.
"We think it's an offer that can't be refused by Government, in terms of the pool of people we want to put together," he said.
Once a list of 100 leaders has been completed, it will be made public and handed to the Government, which will be asked to match an individual's experience with a relevant board
Mr O'Sullivan and Mr Harnett, a Silicon Valley technology investor and founding president of the Irish Technology Leadership Group, have already signed up to the pool that also includes Tom McEnery, former mayor of San Jose; Rory McInerney, vice-president of Digital Enterprise Group and director of Enterprise Microprocessor Group; and Conrad Burke, who started solar business Innovalight in Silicon Valley, recently bought by the DuPont corporation.
It is also intended to offer the pool of experts for an advisory board to the Government, to advise on investment in innovation as well as research and development strategies.
The offer was one of several practical suggestions to come from the 300-plus business leaders who gathered in Dublin Castle on the first day of the two-day event. Former US president Bill Clinton will chair today's session.
The second economic forum followed a 2009 event in Farmleigh House in the Phoenix Park, which was devised by economist David McWilliams and hosted by the previous government. Participants were keen to emphasise that this year's event would produce more practical suggestions and solutions than the last one.
"This time we are going to achieve more," Taoiseach Enda Kenny said.
"This will be a new platform for a new beginning."
Mr Kenny later said that Ireland aimed to be the first country to exit the EU/IMF/ECB rescue programme ahead of Portugal and Greece
"Of all the countries in difficulty, Ireland leads by example," Mr Kenny said, adding that Ireland was best positioned to be the first to "wave goodbye to the IMF".
Catherine Day, the top civil servant in the European Commission, told the conference that Ireland was making good progress.
She added that what was happening in Europe was "not a crisis of the euro, it was a crisis of some members of the euro".