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Kenny: Riverdance moves me to tears

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has revealed he cries every time he sees the power of Riverdance.

In a pep talk to ambassadors, Mr Kenny urged the 76-strong diplomatic corps not to lose sight of the disproportionate impact the arts, music and literature have for Ireland.

And demonstrating the strength of Irish culture, the Taoiseach revealed how he remarked to the Queen during her historic visit how England gave Ireland the language but "look what we did with it".

The Taoiseach addressed ambassadors and heads of mission from around the world at the Department of Foreign Affairs at Iveagh House in Dublin for day two of a conference on how to restore Ireland's image abroad.

He told them he wanted to get the message out that there has never been a better time to visit and that it's time to wave goodbye to Ajai Chopra, the International Monetary Fund mission chief in Ireland.

"For your information this is the Leinster dressing room at half time in Cardiff," he told diplomats recalling the province's momentous Heineken Cup victory.

"Nobody goes out the door, you go out the windows or the walls - there's a great deal to go in this match."

The Taoiseach's rally-the-troops speech compared Ireland to the Roman army and he called on his foreign service to make the world understand that the country is on the way back and wide open for business.

"I actually cry every time I see the power of the phenomenon of Riverdance - ancient dance translated into a phenomenal and powerful message," he said.

"It's like the young fella who climbed out of the military tank in Taiwan many years ago had no English, he had one word, U2. (He) knew the music.

"As I said to Her Majesty down in Dublin Castle, one of the things that England gave Ireland was the language, the English language, and I said 'Your Majesty, look what we did with it - Beckett, Synge, Yeats, Heaney, Joyce and all the others and all in a space of a couple of hundred years."

The Government is hoping to build on the momentum created by the widely-praised State visits of Queen Elizabeth and US President Barack Obama last month.

Meanwhile, in the Taoiseach's first address to the financial sector since taking power he claimed the funds industry had created 432 jobs last year, and will go on to create close to 900 by the end of the year.

The Taoiseach told the Funds Industry Association's annual international conference that Ireland was one of the world's leading locations for international investment funds, with 12,000 people working in the sector.

During 2010 the industry grew by more than 30% when the value of funds administered rose from 1.4 trillion euro in 2009 to 1.88 trillion euro at the end of the year.

Mr Kenny said the funds industry and IDA had formed a partnership to allow it to open representative offices throughout the US and the UK.

"We will ensure that the environment for the development of international financial services and, in particular, investment funds, continues to offer significant opportunity," Mr Kenny said.

"This potential will be achieved as Ireland continues to provide solutions and opportunities to the international funds industry."

© Press Association