Every child over five should have an iPad, says Noonan
Fine Gael wants computer tablets in every classroom
Finance Minister Michael Noonan has said every child over the age of five should have access to an iPad to make Ireland a more tech-savvy country.
Mr Noonan also pledged to unveil a raft of budget measures which will continue to make Ireland an attractive destination for high-tech firms.
Speaking at a Fine Gael fundraising event, the minister said "very strong innovation" was the "X-factor" that Ireland needed to ensure the economic recovery continued.
"We must use the schools to drive it and we must use new ways of managing people," Mr Noonan said.
"You need to organise people in a way they are working in teams to combine the innovative efforts of individuals to do something dramatic," he added.
In a wide-ranging after-dinner speech, Mr Noonan said Ireland can become a country "that is well in advance of its competitors" if the innovative energy of its citizens can be properly harnessed.
"We certainly should have every child with an iPad at five years of age," he added.
He said the Government would push to have computer tablets in every classroom to give children IT skills from an early age.
Mr Noonan said his comments were reflective of Fine Gael's soon-to-be-published manifesto for the forthcoming General Election.
And, with less than two weeks to go before next year's Budget is announced, Mr Noonan also promised to introduce measures to encourage research and development companies to set up in Ireland.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny also spoke about the benefits of iPads this week and called on teachers to nurture the talents of their pupils.
Speaking at the launch of Independent News and Media's new office, Mr Kenny said: "Now you have the iPads and God almighty the volume of stuff that comes in, whether it be on social media or the availability or the access to information.
"I say to teachers, they have to be counsellors and guiders and directors now because any student can pick an Everest of information on any topic.
"But to decide what's a priority, what's necessary, what's realistic and where you should be trying to put your talent as a student is always a position for a guider or a counsellor or someone who says, 'look it's all up there, but really, here are the places where your talent lies'."
At the fundraising event for Fine Gael senator and Dublin West election hopeful Catherine Noone, Mr Noonan said he wanted to run Ireland's economy in the same way his "good friend" German Finance Minister Wolfgang Shaeuble manages Germany's finances.
He said Germany's economy had grown every year for almost two decades as a result of policies which see "interventions when the economy needs it and step back when the economy is moving along grand".
He said Ireland's "boom and bust cycle" was due to an over-reliance on one sector. "The booms were great, then the bust came and loads of people lost their jobs, it lasted several years and the next cycle was engineered. We must get away from that," he said.
The €124-a-head fundraising event was held in the upmarket Marco Pierre White's Courtyard Bar and Grill in the heart of Donnybrook in Dublin 4.
Guests dined on a choice of either prawn cocktail or chicken liver parfait for starters, before enjoying salmon or sirloin steak for their main course.
The meal was topped off with a choice of either rhubarb and apple crumble or chocolate and peanut butter tart.
Ms Noone's running mate, Health Minister Leo Varadkar, did not make the event but their Dublin West campaign team had a table.
Fine Gael solicitor Kevin O'Higgins, Dublin Bay South TD Eoghan Murphy and ballet dancer Monica Loughman all attended the event.