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Friday 24 February 2017

Lights, camera, action for star-spangled jobs drive

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

THE Government is planning to lure Hollywood stars to a "world actors forum" in Ireland during its term in office.

The project has the backing of Irish actors Gabriel Byrne and Liam Neeson. It will be part of a "Davos for the arts" event -- modelled on the annual summit in Davos, Switzerland, which attracts the world's most powerful political and business leaders.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore announced yesterday that the arts forum in 2014 would be part of the Government's new "action plan for jobs".

"It would have a huge importance for tourism and it's also a way of showcasing Ireland and the strength that Ireland has in culture," he said.

There is also going to be a chance for members of the Irish diaspora to provide loans to new Irish businesses through a new fund which will select promising projects. Mr Gilmore said it was based on a model used by Israel to tap into its diaspora which had been "hugely successful". And the Government is going to take up former US president Bill Clinton on his offer to host an Irish investment conference in the USA by scheduling it for February.

But despite the new measures, the official government target is still to create 100,000 extra jobs by 2015 -- which will not come anywhere near tackling the 447,000 people currently signing on the live register.

Jobs and Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton said he would be introducing a partial loan guarantee scheme, which would see the Government agree to cover up to 75pc of losses on loans to innovative businesses.

Yesterday, Taoiseach Enda Kenny tried to defuse coalition tensions over the Budget negotiations by insisting he had an "excellent working relationship" with Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore.

He had angered Labour backbenchers by making off-hand remarks about how he would make an "honest leader" of Mr Gilmore -- who had made promises to prevent child benefit cuts before the general election.

Mr Kenny said yesterday that he had been responding to a very facetious question from Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins.

"The Tanaiste and I have a very, very strong and excellent working relationship and there was absolutely no offence intended," he said.

Irish Independent

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