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President calls for positive image of Ireland

President Mary McAleese urged investment gurus today to promote the country as a place ready to do business again.

In a rallying cry to IDA Ireland officials, the President called on them to sell an image of a State determined to put the recession in the past but keep the lessons from it to the front.

"A lot of households are depending on the strong track record of IDA Ireland coming through for them," the President said.

Mrs McAleese addressed the agency's annual conference in Dublin, where some overseas staff gathered to discuss experiences in attracting investment from big business.

The President urged staff to look away from the negative analysis of the Irish economy and to promote a broader picture of life in Ireland.

"The people you talk to will have read the headlines and your role will be to get them to think and plan beyond the negativity of the moment, to impress on their minds an image of an industrious Ireland where people are resilient and ready to 'forever begin'," she said.

"Your job is to introduce them to the Ireland that is not reducible to single headlines, or fatalistic opinion pieces, but rather the complex and exciting Ireland that is cosmopolitan, hard-working, competitively priced, imaginative, innovative, ready to do business."

The President said the IDA should use Ireland's unique selling points - the only English-speaking euro-zone nation; the track record on securing premium foreign investment; and strong export industries.

Mrs McAleese said there should be a vision of an "Ireland open for business and determined to put this awful period behind us as quickly as possible and to keep its learnt lessons in front of us".

The IDA unveiled a plan last year to bring in 105,000 new jobs and 640 new investments to the country by 2014.

In her address, the President said the IDA's job was always to begin again.

She said: "The confidence and trust that rests on your shoulders is nothing short of immense but, as your strategy makes clear, if the targets are to be met, and they can be, there must be a national collaborative effort, with all stakeholders doing their bit and doing their best to pull Ireland out of recession and into recovery."

PA Media