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Houston, we're having several problems

THE Tanaiste's no dummy. He knows that technological wizardry is where it's at. This week, Eamon Gilmore has seen the sensation caused by a guitar floating in a most peculiar way, but sadly his buddy the Taoiseach has already baggsed Chris Hadfield.

So, instead, the commander of the Labour ship agreed to participate in his own bit of, well, not quite intergalactic, more transatlantic, conversation.

Yesterday afternoon, Eamon popped along to the Global Diaspora Forum, which is taking place on his home turf, at Fitzpatrick's Castle Hotel in Killiney. The two-day event, co-ordinated by the US State Department, is also under way in Washington DC.

The plan was that there would be a live link-up between Ireland and America for speeches given by the Tanaiste and then by US Secretary of State John Kerry.

But then the latter was unable to attend, so instead the address was delivered by under-secretary Robert Hormats.

But then in the run-up to the event, word filtered through that the American side was having technical issues and the screen may well remain forlornly blank.

Now this didn't bode well, coming from a Superpower with all sorts of serious hardware involving missiles, red buttons and the like. Nor was one of the chairmen of the conference, Gerry Dunne, impressed with the messing about. "I told them if they can put a man on the moon, they can figure out how to make this work," he admitted. And the State Department obeyed.

Eamon Gilmore bustled into the hall to speak on the issue of the Irish diaspora, which number about 70 million scattered about the globe.

"Ireland's relationship with its diaspora is enshrined in our Constitution, which states that the Irish nation cherishes its special affinity with people of Irish ancestry," he said.

Then it was time to tune into Robert Hormats's speech. But it was a case of Washington – we have a problem. A slightly sheepish co-chairman Kingsley Aikens, CEO of Diaspora Matters, admitted "the cyber-gremlins are at work again", and briskly gave American counterparts 10 minutes to get their act together.

And they did. But by then the undersecretary was in full flow – there was no cheery 'Hello Dublin!" a la the voting juries in the Eurovision. Instead, he spoke of how the US needed an open policy on emigration – or "as open as possible" he added, and of how America needed to be a beacon to the world.

Assuming they could get the beacon up and working, of course.

Irish Independent