One of the projects announced at the Global Economic Summit at Dublin Castle last weekend was The Gathering, which will take place in 2013 and will consist of a year long programme of events and festivals. Essentially, Tourism Ireland & Fáilte Ireland will be leading a sustained marketing drive worth €16 million to get the message out at home and abroad of a Global Irish Homecoming in 2013.

There will be a number of new flagship events with efforts to enhance existing festivals. The Gathering will be aimed in the first instance at the 70 million Irish Diaspora who are dotted around the world. The target is to encourage .5% of the Diaspora or 325,000 additional visitors. If that target is achieved there will be an estimated €220 million injection in the Irish Economy.

There is a compelling argument why County Clare should be to the fore of this project, given our exceptional tourist product, the presence of Shannon Airport and our reputation as a place of welcome.

To this end, I am suggesting that a similar type working committee that was formed in an attempt to bring the Fleadh Ceoil Na hEireann to Ennis, be established and tasked to work on preparing the way for The Gathering in County Clare. The make-up of the committee should be cross political and drawn from all sectors of society, be it sporting, voluntary, tourist, business and the general public who have an interest and expertise.  It’s critical that work begins on this initiative without delay.