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DCU meeting hears ways to boost Irish economy

Minister Joan Burton.

Irish minister for social protection, Joan Burton, and the president of Dublin City University, Professor Brian MacCraith, have suggested that the Irish in America are Ireland's best hope of a badly needed economic boost, this at the recent first major gathering of Dublin City University alumni in New York.

"Don't believe what you hear in the Irish media, believe what you hear outside," Prof. McCraith told a group of about 60 assembled in the Irish Consulate at a gathering to mark St. Patrick's Day.

The event was co-organized by DCU and Education in Ireland, an initiative of Enterprise Ireland.

The times are "difficult" but "very innovative," Prof. McCraith said.

He spoke of "the positivity we felt here and on the West Coast," adding, "If we could diffuse a bit of that across the Atlantic, it would be hugely important".

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Ms. Burton, echoed this view, saying, "I urge you to be ambassadors for Ireland".

The minister of the department that administers welfare programs, Burton added: "Four years ago, we were a very wealthy country, today we are not."

She expressed hope that some of those present would return to Ireland to start businesses.

Prof. McCraith noted that "Ireland has the highest university-going population in Europe, sixty eight percent," adding that his university is particularly focused on innovation.

Research suggests, McCraith said, that "By 2020, seventy percent of Ireland's GDP will be generated within an hour of DCU."

DCU has always had a business orientation, having emerged from new Irish educational institutes modeled on the UK polytechnics, whose courses focused on the needs of industry.

Some illustrious graduates of DCU that McCraith mentioned include Paul Kerley, who sold the global firm he founded, Norkom Technologies, for €26 million last year, Lorraine Twohill, vice president of global marketing for Google, and Kevin O'Sullivan, the new editor of The Irish Times newspaper.

Another graduate, John Martin, president of The Cavan Group, which is based in Boston, urged the wide range of graduating classes represented to make use of the DCU network.

Some attendees commented that other Irish universities such as Trinity College have long had alumni associations in New York and it was good to see that DCU now had one too.

Another important development that Prof. McCraith cited was the appointment last year of Martin McAleese, husband of former President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, as DCU's chancellor.

"The name McAleese is a brand that opens doors around the world," he said.