Sunday 4 December 2016

Brendan O'Connor: Shaking Uncle Sam and US cousins for a dig-out

Next year's Gathering is a money-making exercise, so why the outcry after actor Gabriel Byrne called it as it is?

Published 11/11/2012 | 05:00

IT is interesting that when people lined up to attack Gabriel Byrne for his criticism of the Gathering, no one really took issue with his central point. Byrne was slammed for being "negative" mainly, which is of course a major crime these days (because positivity and exuberance did so much for this country, and for the world).

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But you will notice that no one seriously claimed that the Gathering was anything other than a money-making event. Sure they couched it in all kinds of talk about new ways of reaching out to the diaspora and whatnot but they couldn't really credibly say that the primary purpose of the Gathering wasn't, essentially, to shake down the Yanks.

They couldn't flat out deny the shakedown theory, because that is precisely how the Gathering has been presented here since the idea first came up. It was presented as part of a series of original measures to try and help our economic recovery. It was never presented as a way for us all to reach out to the diaspora and make them feel more connected to fill a void in their souls. No, the Gathering was always less about what we could do for the diaspora than what the diaspora could do for us. It was talked of in terms of extra tourist numbers and revenue and jobs and suchlike, not in terms of healing the diaspora's sense of displacement and making them feel welcome here.

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