| 4.9°C Dublin

Gathering chief's €200k pay bill to lead tourist push

THE Gathering's project manager has been paid more than €200,000 so far for work on the tourism-led initiative.

Jim Miley has received fees and expenses, and has just been given an eight-month extension on his contract.

He was originally hired in May 2012 on a one-year contract that expired last week.

He has been paid a total of €202,074 in fees and expenses for his work to date, figures show.

The event has been enthusiastically embraced, with thousands of 'individual gatherings' planned, many of which are due to take place in the capital.

Some 3,000 Gathering-related events or activities are planned nationwide.

These events include festivals, concerts and other so-called 'clan gatherings', which will see those with the same family name coming together as part of the celebrations.

Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar said: "The overall target is to attract at least 325,000 extra overseas visits in 2013, which would generate some €170m in revenue, based on historic spending patterns."

He said: "The 2013 Estimates allocations to Failte Ireland include a special provision of €7m, specifically provided to fund the promotion, development and legacy of the Gathering," he said.

He said that "all tourism stakeholders must continue to work hard to ensure that our targets are achieved".

According to The Central Statistics Office, visitors increased by 30,000 between December and February.

Failte Ireland has revealed it paid €140,171 to Genesis Marketing Communications to create an "operations plan" to secure the engagement of communities and groups for The Gathering.

It has awarded contracts to a number of different companies in connection with The Gathering, to look after issues such as branding, and the development and management of its PR strategy, among other matters.

However, the body said that the costs are proportionate, and it expects good results, particularly from the US.




While the Gathering project has been enthusiastically embraced by many, actor Gabriel Byrne caused controversy when he described it as a 'shakedown' of expats.

The Usual Suspects actor attracted a lot of criticism when he lashed out at the event in an interview he did last year.

However, he subsequently admitted that describing The Gathering as a "shakedown" was wrong.

The US-based star admitted that the term may have been too strong.