Friday 17 November 2017

Kenny woos US investors with a range of Irish gifts

GIFTS: Taoiseach Enda Kenny with Britain’s Queen Elizabeth on her historic visit to Ireland. Photo: Tom Burke
GIFTS: Taoiseach Enda Kenny with Britain’s Queen Elizabeth on her historic visit to Ireland. Photo: Tom Burke
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

Enda Kenny has been wooing US multinational business chiefs with an array of Irish-themed gifts, ranging from special sets of cuff links to a paperweight emblazoned with its own logo.

As the battle for transnational investment intensifies after the UK's Brexit vote, the Taoiseach has resorted to a series of imaginative gestures to win over some high fliers who are spearheading various companies that have invested in Ireland.

EXQUISITE: Prince Albert of Monaco was given Waterford Crystal champagne flutes
EXQUISITE: Prince Albert of Monaco was given Waterford Crystal champagne flutes
The hamper presented to US president Barack Obama for St Patrick’s Day last year
The rare book that Mr Kenny presented to the Queen

According to documents obtained by the Sunday Independent, a senior Coca Cola executive was presented with a crystal-engraved mobile phone holder.

Over the past five years, executives in various multinational operations received a number of token gifts which were clearly intended to acknowledge their importance for job creation in Ireland.

Among the high-profile multinational companies listed are Yahoo, Amazon, Intel and Microsoft.

The gift list includes a woollen scarf from Kilkenny Design, a 12cm 'coaster' and a special photo frame, both from Dublin Crystal.

Meanwhile, on the political front, Chinese premier Li Keqiang received a book series entitled Tales of Old Ireland.

The visiting Chinese delegation - representing one of the most lucrative trading markets in the world - were also presented with a bronze Children of Lir sculpture.

Among other foreign dignitaries who visited Ireland, was the Austrian president Heinz Fischer, who was given a series of books entitled A History of Ireland in 100 Objects.

The list records that President Obama, during his May 2011 visit to Ireland, was presented with a special pair of 'History of Ireland' silver cuff links. Other gifts given to the US president included a handcrafted book of poems by WB Yeats and a Bord Bia hamper of Irish foods.

And for the annual St Patrick's Day exchange of gifts this year, Mr Obama received a set of Michael Collins replica cuff links.

Sheik Khallifa, President of the United Arab Emirates, received as a gift in December 2013 an equine-themed crystal bowl to mark the huge interest in horse racing in the UAE.

Prince Albert of Monaco, on a state visit to this country, received a special set of six Waterford Crystal champagne flutes.

One of the most imaginative presentations over the period - to Queen Elizabeth in 2011 - was a limited-edition of The Sweeney Guide to the Irish Turf (1501-2001), supplied by De Burca rare books.

Among the gifts received by the Taoiseach over the past five years is a JFK bust, worth €2,000, which was donated by the Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston.

President Obama also presented Mr Kenny with a silkscreen print from a 'limited edition' by US artist Alex Katz in May 2011.

One of the more unusual gifts to the Taoiseach was a 'Lenovo ThinkPad Helix Laptop', which he received during a visit to Japan in 2013.

Overall, documents show that the most valuable gift received between 2011 and 2016 was a piece of handmade embroidery that was presented to Mr Kenny by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in 2015. It is valued at €6,800, bringing the total value of gifts received by Mr Kenny on behalf of the State since 2011 to €12,000.

All such gifts are governed by strict ethical guidelines and, according to an official statement, are currently located in the Department of the Taoiseach.

Sunday Independent

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