Competitive Edge By Maura Kelly
It has been called “the ultimate mind meld for business leaders” by those involved.
For seven days in June, 110 Irish entrepreneurs had the opportunity to engage with top U.S. CEOs, economists, political advisors and change agents in Chicago, the University of Notre Dame, and New York, this while attending the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year CEO Retreat.
All of the participants embarked on the supercharger retreat with one goal in mind – to return to Ireland reinvigorated and expand their businesses on a domestic and international level.
The journey for twenty-four of the CEOs started when their companies were short-listed for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year (EOY) 2014 Award.
EOY is a global recognition program for entrepreneurs run in 140 cities in over 50 countries.
The Irish EOY program, now in its sixteenth year, was created to recognize talent and innovation across the island of Ireland and it includes finance, technology, agriculture and manufacturing sectors.
All of the finalists and seasoned entrepreneurs on the retreat have created new jobs and opportunities, both in Ireland’s tough economy and abroad.
I had a chance to meet and talk with several CEOs at the residence of Consul General Noel Kilkenny during the New York leg of the trip.
Fresh off the plane from South Bend, Indiana, the group was truly energized by the panoramic views of Manhattan and the Empire State Building from the Consul General’s 52nd floor residence.
“”The aim of this year’s CEO Retreat is to challenge and inspire Ireland’s entrepreneurs to think in new ways and unlock their success and strategy on a global level” explained Frank O’Keeffe, Partner-in-Charge of the EOY program.
“We want Ireland, north and south, to become one of the best places in the world to do business. We’ve just arrived from Notre Dame and we have a strong connection there. They are known as the fighting Irish in sports and the individuals here have a fighting Irish spirit and it’s played out in business.”
Several of the group commented on the inspirational talk football coach Lou Holtz gave the previous night about living life to the best of one’s ability. They expressed deep admiration for the football legend and said it was a highlight of the trip.
Some of the companies vying for the EOY 2014 grand prize in the emerging category include Sugru, whose tag line states, “The future needs fixing.” This innovative self-setting rubber is used for fixing, modifying and improving things and sells in 138 countries.
On the entertainment front, Belfast based Sixteen South (Sesame Street Northern Ireland and Jim Henson’s Pajanimals) were in the running for two Daytime Emmy’s that same week. Datahug creates online collaboration tools and I happened to catch their pitch at a recent New York Digital Irish event.
The applications enhance lead generation and uncover relationships and connections within a company’s network of contacts. John Rice, CEO of Jam Media, recalled his early years in New York with MTV and talked about how his U.S. experience planted the seeds for opening his own animation company in Dublin, then Belfast, and now Canada in the near future.
The next day, World EOY 2013 winner, Hamdi Ulukaya, wowed the group when he shared how he started Chobani Greek Yogurt with nothing but a subway coupon and 25 cents in his pocket. Within five years he grew his company to $1 billion in sales and now employs over 3000 staff. Later that day, Jim McCann of 1-800-Flowers recounted his unique journey from start up to leader in the floral trade.
The EOY CEO Retreat doesn’t limit itself to seeking excellent in all things business, it also promotes giving back.
Michael Carey, chairman of Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board, explained the genesis of “Soul of Haiti” to me.
“Soul of Haiti is a charity that started in 2007 after the EOY CEO Retreat visited Haiti. We were so moved by what we saw, we decided to set up the charity on our return to Ireland.”
Carey added: “We utilize the philosophy of social entrepreneurship and rather than focus just on relief work, we help stimulate business and employment in Haiti so that the people can start providing for themselves and build their own future.
I think the EOY Twitter feed sums up the week nicely: @EOYIreland “What a trip, we’re now bringing our 110 Irish entrepreneurs back home re-invigorated and ready to get back to business with a bang! @bubblebumukltd tweets – “An incredible fanfreakingbubbletastic week with @EOYIreland in Notre Dame and NYC. Thank you.”
Ireland’s 24 finalists will face off against each other for the grand prize at the EOY Gala Night in Dublin on October 24th. The overall winner will then go on to participate in the World Entrepreneur of the Year Awards in Monte Carlo in June 2014. Good luck to all.
You can follow Maura Kelly on Twitter @MauraKellyMedia
By Ray O’Hanlon
Reform backers fell two votes short of the “Magnificent 70,” but the margin of victory was nevertheless impressive.
The United States Senate voted 68-32 Thursday for S.744, The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.
The bill includes a provision that would allow 10,500 renewable E-3 visas for the Irish with no sunset.
Passage of the bill represented a big win for the bipartisan “Gang of Eight,” the members of which crafted the measure, and a particular triumph for the bill’s lead Democratic sponsor, Senator Charles Schumer who penned the Irish E-3 provision.
The reform debate now shifts to the far more uncertain ground that is the U.S. House of Representatives.
President Obama and Belfast Lord Mayor Máirtin Ó Muilleoir chatted for several minutes Monday when they met in Belfast.
The mayoral chain had caught the president’s eye and he joked about how he might get his hands on a similar symbol of high office.
By Ray O’Hanlon
Maureen O’Hara surrounded by family and friends including (l-r – back row): John Nicoletti, (her biographer), Charles FitzSimons, her nephew, Conor FitzSimons, Maureen’s grandson. Front row has great grandchildren, Everest and Baylee, and Conor’s wife, Elga FitzSimons Photo by Barton B. MacLeod.
She kept her promise.
Screen star Maureen O’Hara traveled from Boise, Idaho, to Winterset, Iowa last weekend to honor fellow Hollywood legend John Wayne in his birthplace.
A John Wayne museum and learning center and museum is planned for the Iowa town, and the project now has the best possible blessing from O’Hara, who made five movies with the late actor, including the iconic “The Quiet Man.”
Wayne was born in Winterset on May 26, 1907.
It was O’Hara’s first ever visit to Winterset, and it was also billed as her last large scale public appearance.
O’Hara was greeted by fans during the weekend as the town featured O’Hara and Wayne films in its movie theater.
“I hope they don’t forget,” O’Hara said of the well wishers.
“If they forget me, I might get mad at them, because I am still here,” the 92-year-old actress said.
O’Hara lived in West Cork for a number of years, but is now settled in Idaho close to family members.
Fans the world over have been campaigning to have Hollywood award her a lifetime achievement Oscar at next year’s Academy Awards.
Judiciary Committee passes reform bill
The Senate immigration reform bill, S.744 or the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act to give it it’s full title, was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday by a vote of 13 to 5.
The bill, which contained a provision that would offer 10,500 annual “Schumer” visas to the Irish, now goes to the Senate floor and backers are hopeful that the full Senate will take it up after the Memorial Day congressional break, that being the first week in June.
Irish “Day of Action”
to help the residents of Rockaway who have been shattered by Hurricane Sandy, it will take place on November 24th the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
Designated work areas will be arranged in Rockaway.
The day is being coordinated by the Irish Consulate in New York
Buses leave promptly at 7AM. Assembly at these locations:
Aisling Irish Center, 990 McLean Avenue, Yonkers;
Emerald Isle Immigration Center, 5926 Woodside Avenue, Woodside
EIIC, 4275 Katonah Avenue Bronx;
New York Irish Center, 1040 Jackson Avenue, Queens;
Grand Central Airport Bus Location, Park Avenue, (between 41st and 42nd Street.
Buses return from The Rockaways at 3PM.
***Volunteer Registration Open***
Please consider volunteering on November 24, 2012 for a day of Action to those still in need of help after Hurricane Sandy, organized in conjunction with coordination and assistance with community organizations and staff from the New York Irish consulate.
All are welcome to join our mobilization in the community to help. Also PLEASE pass the information along (post on Facebook, Twitter etc.) to anyone you think would be interested in helping, as there are many in our community still in great need of assistance.
Buses will leave designated locations at 7am and are expected to return @ 2:30 pm.
Clearly the luck of the Irish isn’t up to the year that’s soon to be in it.
The Irish government is reportedly set to introduce a new license-plate system next year amid fears that a “13” registration number will diminish new car sales.
Irish license plates show the car’s year as well as its home county.
Cars registered between January and the end of June will have a “131” notation on the plate. Those from July 1 to the end of the year will have “132” on the plate.
The decision, according to an Irish Times report, is based partly on fears that superstition over a “13” plate would affect sales and partly in response to the motor industry’s plea to spread sales more evenly across the year.
Up to now, there has been a glut of sales every January to March/April and then a virtual trickle of purchases for the rest of the year. This puts huge financial pressure on dealerships as cash flow dries up, the report stated.
By having a July registration, it is hoped that the sales bulge will be spread out over the year and possibly give a mid-summer lift to buying.
A bi-annual system is used in Britain, the report noted.
A government spokesman confirmed that the Department of Finance was actively considering the proposed change as part of a consultation process with the motor industry.
But the spokesman declined to comment because this is an issue that may arise in December’s Budget. The Revenue Commissioners also declined to comment, the report concluded.
On Thursday, violence erupted in the outskirts of North Belfast following contentious marches past a nationalist area.
The first parade was by Orangemen returning from the annual Twelfth celebrations; the second was by a nationalist group opposed to the parade.
As trouble broke out, petrol bombs and bricks were thrown at police lines by both nationalists and loyalists leaving 20 PSNI officers injured. The PSNI fired six plastic bullets, used water cannon on the crowds, and made several arrests. Later, up to 10 shots were fired at the police in what a PSNI spokesman described as “attempted murder.”
PSNI Assistant Chief Constable, Will Kerr, said the community needed to call a halt to the violence.
“I am angry that we have these three days of annual madness where it seems that everybody thinks the peacekeepers are a legitimate target,” he said.
“We will be making a significant number of arrests, as we did last year, over the course of the next weeks and months to make sure that people
are placed before the courts and answer for their decisions.”
There was also anger from nationalists after a loyalist band was filmed walking around in circles outside a Catholic church in Belfast playing anti-Catholic tunes.
The footage was loaded on to You Tube and made the news in Ireland after the individual filming the scene was attacked by the bandsmen.
Sinn Féin’s Conor Maskey was in the area at the time and witnessed part of the incident.
“The Orange Order needs to explain to the St. Patrick’s congregation why a loyalist band taking part in their parade played sectarian tunes and behaved provocatively outside St Patrick’s church,” Maskey said.
“The person filming was then attacked by a member of the band. It is time for the Orange Order to show leadership, step into the 21st century
and got rid of the organization’s anti-Catholic sectarian ethos.
Until that happens, then clearly this bigoted side of the organization will continue to manifest itself in incidents like this.”
Not at the fair, but rather at the 2014 Ancient Order of Hibernians National Convention which will take place in the Missouri two years from now.
And two years after that, the biennial gathering will take place in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
These and other important decisions pertaining to the future of the largest Irish American organization were finalized last week by members, men and women, who had gathered in Verona in upstate New York for the 2012 convention.
The event witnessed the end of the two term, four year, leadership of AOH National President, Philadelphia’s Seamus Boyle, and the installation of his successor, Brendan Moore, a resident of Rockland County, NY.
Outgoing ladies national president, Margaret Hennessy, was succeeded by Maureen Shelton from Michigan, while Mary Hogan from Brooklyn became national vice president.
The convention was addressed by, among others, North Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, and Ireland’s Consul General in New York, Ambassador Noel Kilkenny, who spoke effusively of the order’s storied past, and its varied and vital mission for the years ahead.
The Irish government is set to launch a formal complaint with the Mauritian government after a newspaper in the Indian Ocean island
published graphic photographs of the body of an Irish citizen murdered there.
Michaela McAreavey, a 27-year-old teacher from County Tyrone, was killed in January 2011 while on honeymoon in Mauritius with her husband John. She was the daughter of one of Ireland’s best known sports figures, Mickey Harte, manager of the Tyrone Gaelic football team.
Two men who went on trial for her murder were found not guilty last week following a seven-week court battle.
Avinash Treebhoowoon, 32, and Sandip Moneea, 43, both worked at the hotel where Mrs. McAreavey was murdered in her room.
After a trial lasting seven weeks, it took a jury at the Supreme Court in Port Louis just two hours to acquit the pair of strangling Mrs. McAreavey to death and dumping her body in a hotel bathtub.
the acquittal prompted a furious reaction in Ireland but will celebrations on the island by family members and supporters of the accused.
The prosecution claimed That Michaela had found the defendants ransacking her suite and said they murdered her to prevent her from raising the alarm.
But the trial heard claims that one of the men had been beaten into a confession, while the other was on the phone to his sister at the time the murder took place. No DNA evidence was found linking either men to the victim.
The basic competence of the police investigation and the officers who carried it out was questioned by the defense team with the testimony of successive policemen seized upon by defense lawyers as evidence of a mismanaged, insensitive and unprofessional inquiry.
Following the verdict, the McAreavey and Harte families released a statement saying: “After waiting 18 months in search of justice for Michaela and following the endurance of seven harrowing weeks of this trial, there are no words, which can describe the sense of devastation and desolation now felt by both families.”
A further blow to the families came on Sunday when crime scene photographs, including Mrs. McAreavey’s body and close-ups of her injuries, were published in a Mauritian Sunday newspaper.
The photographs have provoked outrage in Ireland with a spokesman for the McAreavey and Harte families saying: “They are in shock as to how
far this has gone.”
Taoiseach Enda Kenny branded the publication of the photos “a gross affront to human dignity” and said the Irish government would be lodging a formal complaint with the Mauritian government and protesting to officials in Mauritius in “the strongest possible terms.”
The Mauritian police have launched an investigation into how the photographs were obtained by the paper.