English speakers need only apply

Remember that conference held last week in Northern Ireland? The one that Brian Cowen attended as well as Gordon Brown. It was set up by Invest NI on the first anniversary of the new government in the North. Top business people from the US were invited over to the showcase event designed to promote Northern Ireland as a place to set up business.

Apparantly, the delegates from the US were very impressed with what they saw, but there weren’t very many saying whether or not they WOULD actually be investing in business in Northern Ireland. So it remains to be seen what tangible results the conference will bring. The biggest obstacle I can see for the North is the big difference in the corporate tax rate.

A headline that seems to have got little comment is the one that appeared last week on Breakingnews.ie – it read:

“Top hotel told to keep foreign staff away from US guests”.

According to the article, Invest NI raised concerns with the Culloden Hotel about the migrant workers working for them and the fact that they would be serving the US delegates with broken English. This claim was later denied by Invest NI but the suggestion had to have come from somewhere and it was most likely from within the hotel itself.

The full story is here.

It reminds me of the ‘think thank’ run by the Irish government some years ago. It was the first time the cabinet went outside the capital for such an event. It was held in Tinakilly House in Rathnew, Co. Wicklow.

There was a lot of media coverage for it and so, it was deemed by the government PR people, that more photogenic waiting staff were required. And so it was. Regular waiting staff were relieved of their duties for the day while hired models struck a pose for Ireland instead. Hard to believe, yes – but absolutely true. Only in Ireland, eh?

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