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Thursday 29 September 2016

Council loses €130k on two-day conference for 'sister city' San Jose

Former Mayor Bertie Ahern twinned the two cities
Former Mayor Bertie Ahern twinned the two cities

after splashing out on dinners for up to 300 people, Dublin City Council paid more than planned during this year's US-Ireland Sister Summit.

The event, held over two days in April, was designed to mark the 30th anniversary of sister city relations between Dublin and San Jose, California, as well as marking the 1916 Rising centenary.

It cost the city council (DCC) €190,000 to host the event, and it was expected that €100,000 could be brought in against this to help cover the cost, but the actual income fell short at only €62,000.

During the two days, a leadership dinner and the Spirit of Ireland Awards were held in City Hall with 200 guests attending, including Irish mayors.

A conference also took place in Croke Park, with around 340 participants.

It was followed by the Summit Dinner in the Round Room at the Mansion House with 300 attending.

A number of people also attended the centenary show in Croke Park, but there was no charge for these events.

Economy

Although the event was held in tandem with the centenary celebrations, funding was not drawn from that pool, according to DCC.

Money for the event was spread over budget years 2015 and 2016.

The council highlighted the fact that the conference earned an estimated €500,000 for the city's economy and was a good PR opportunity, especially in the US. Speakers at the event did not charge, saving around €7,500 in potential costs.

According to a report prepared for councillors, the "objective of the summit was to 'examine the relevance and effectiveness of Sister City Relations in this century, explore the practical projects that can make such relations valuable and renew or collapse existing relations'."

It also stated that "a number of factors impacted on the capacity of the Office to fundraise and engage Irish local authorities as effectively as would be wished" but does not elaborate.

Dublin and San Jose have been twinned since 1986.

The relationship was initiated by former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, who was then Lord Mayor of Dublin.

The idea of "sister cities" is to forge closer links between cities.

President Michael D Higgins was one of the speakers at the event.

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