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Saturday 3 December 2016

Cosgrave should give back €700k if it was 'hush money', says minister

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Ged Nash
Ged Nash

More than €700,000 given to the Web Summit by the State should be handed back if its co-founder Paddy Cosgrave considers it nothing more than 'hush' money, a Government minister has said.

Minister for Business and Employment Ged Nash has hit out at claims by Mr Cosgrave that funding for the event from the IDA and Enterprise Ireland was supplied so that the organisers would "lavish the Government in praise".

"What we received over a four-year period, in my eyes, amounts to nothing more than hush money," Mr Cosgrave said.

However, Mr Nash responded by asking for the money back so that it could be used to help start-up companies. "It's a considerable sum of money and if Paddy Cosgrave considers that hush money, I'm sure the State would be happy to take that back and invest it in small start-ups that could do with the additional supports," he said.

Mr Nash said that despite being a minister in the Department of Jobs for two Web Summits, he has never received an invitation to the event.

"I don't take that personally. I'm as busy as Paddy Cosgrave is," he said.

Lobbied

During an interview on RTE's Morning Ireland, Mr Cosgrave hit out at the Government who he had lobbied for help to put a traffic management plan in place, to keep the cost of hotels down and to ensure that wifi in the RDS was up to standard.

He defended the decision to move the event to Lisbon for the next three years, saying it had become "too big" for Dublin.

Around 400 people attended the inaugural Web Summit in 2010 but more than 30,000 people are expected to visit it this week. There will be 1,000 speakers including representatives from Instagram, Tinder, Pixar and Stripe.

However, Mr Nash said: "Our story is a bigger one that simply the Web Summit."

The minister said a recent start-up gathering was "a phenomenal success".

"It's our ambition that Ireland will become a hub for start-ups by 2020."

He said the Department of Jobs had made contact with the Web Summit organisers to "see how we could support but got no response whatsoever".

"I genuinely wish the Web Summit well and that at some stage they might consider moving the Web Summit event back to Ireland," Mr Nash said.

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