BILLIONAIRE philanthropist Bill Gates has praised Ireland’s commitment to overseas development aid even during our own economic troubles.
The Microsoft founder, who now campaigns on the need to vaccinate for diseases, met Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore for an hour this morning ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Mr Gilmore said Mr Gates hailed Ireland's commitment to ending world poverty, hunger and disease.
"He paid tribute to Ireland for the work we are doing in development aid and the fact that we have stabilised our own aid budget in these difficult economic circumstances," he said.
"It was very much a working meeting.
"The Gates Foundation has a very strong commitment to the same objectives that Ireland has in the area of development aid.
"And ending poverty, hunger and disease are our shared objectives."
Mr Gilmore described Mr Gates as a "friend of Ireland".
He said it was clear the friendship Gates feels for Ireland was born, not just from his business experience with the country, but with the work they have done together in the area of development.
The computer entrepreneur established the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000, which has since spent $25bn on development initiatives in more than 100 programme countries.
He has previously pledged $41m to aid agency Concern to help fight spiralling baby and mother death rates in developing countries.
Discussions also included Ireland's position in Europe and negotiations regarding the seven-year European Budget.
Mr Gilmore also said Mr Gates had backed Ireland's chances of a full economic recovery and that he had confidence the country would return to growth.
Gates is said to be visiting a number of European countries ahead of a World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland.