The Punt: It's all about bums on seats for Grafton
An intrepid band of volunteers from building materials group Grafton are setting off on their saddles again for charity.
Their 2014 challenge is to cycle 200 miles over four days from the Mediterranean to the Adriatic. The ambitious group will ride coast to coast across Italy, climbing a total of 18,000 feet over the Apennine Mountains, during the first week in June.
That's actually the kind of idyllic trip The Punt wouldn't mind doing... as long as it wasn't on a bike.
But like all good sports, these guys are not just doing this for fun. The group have covered all their personal costs, ensuring every euro and pound raised will go directly to charity. But so far they've only managed to rake in just over £5,000 of their £12,000 target. So dig deep, people, and visit www.justgiving.com/Nicola-Reilly3.
All funds will go to the Foundation of Light, which uses the power of football to involve and educate young people in a range of innovative programmes.
Last summer, Grafton's Gavin Slark and Nicola Reilly, and others, cycled from Dublin to Sunderland, raising almost £20,000 for the cause.
Business, but not as usual
THE chief executive of recruitment company CPL Resources, Anne Heraty; Taxback.com founder Terry Clune; and Jerry Kennelly, chief of online design company Tweak, will be among the business brains on hand to launch the 2014 EY 'Entrepreneur of the Year' CEO Retreat tomorrow.
The gathering will initially take place in the picturesque Co Wicklow surroundings of Druids Glen, before more than 100 Irish entrepreneurs jet off to Vancouver and Seattle on Sunday on a strategic development programme.
Also attending will be the EY 'Entrepreneur Of The Year 2014' finalists. EY partner-in-charge Frank O'Keeffe said the retreat is designed to equip leaders with the knowledge, tools and networks needed to develop a vision for their respective businesses.
The US itinerary includes so-called "executive education" sessions at the Universities of Washington and British Columbia. The group will also take part in tours of EA Sports, Hootsuite and the Microsoft global headquarters.
There's also a private tour of the Boeing factory and Dreamliner gallery, as well as an address from Boeing's Global CEO.
They'll be all geared up and ready to go by their return to Ireland on May 31, if a little exhausted.
US serenades on trade deal
GIVE it up for the US Embassy in Dublin, and its attempt at soft diplomacy.
Log on to the embassy's Youtube channel and you'll be able to watch the renowned Yale Spizzwinks, looking very dapper in their formal gear, giving us a little tune about the benefits of the EU-US transatlantic trade and investment partnership.
It's a pretty novel way to promote what is a very important, but rather turgid topic.
Talks kicked off again this week on the massive trade deal involving American and European negotiators. But it's fairly controversial. The US and EU yesterday sought to counter rising opposition to the talks, as hundreds of activists protested against the plans that they say would only benefit big companies fixated on maximising profits.
European farmers, unions and nationalist politicians are trying to sway an uncertain public, despite studies showing a deal could increase economic growth.
To coincide with the fifth round of negotiations, the US Embassy asked the university cappella group to compose a short song explaining the main goals of the agreement.
The Punt wondered if the Government thought about asking them to do a little number for the launch of the Action Plan for Jobs Ninth Quarterly Progress Report yester-day.