Byrne slams The Gathering
Gabriel Byrne says the bridge between Ireland and its
diaspora is broken
The Irish Times takes no responsibility for the
or availability of other websites
Irish actor Gabriel Byrne has dismissed the Gathering
2013 initiative as "a scam."
who previously served as the cultural ambassador for
Ireland in the US, said many who left Ireland for the US
feel abandoned by the Government - and that the bridge
between Ireland and its diaspora is broken.
He also said Irish-Americans are not receptive to being
"shaken down" for money.
Gathering is a tourism initiative to entice people with
Irish connections to visit the country during 2013.
Speaking on The Last Word on Today FM today, which was
broadcast from New York, Byrne said the Taoiseachs
speech launching The Gathering was "slightly
"People are sick to death of being asked to help out
in what they regard as a scam," he said
"I wish The Gathering the very best of luck but they
have to understand that the bridge between the diaspora
and the people is broken and I tried to fix that for two
years and its still broken.... Most people [in
Ireland] dont give a shit about the diaspora except
to shake them down for a few quid."
"The diaspora has a very powerful spiritual
connection to the island of Ireland. I remember when I
was growing up in Dublin those buses would pull up and
those people in Burberry coats would be laughed at
because theyd say 'here come the Yanks looking for
their roots.' Well, as far as Im concerned one of
the most sacred things you can do is look for your roots."
"The other day I was talking to a group of people.
One of them was an illegal immigrant. His father died, he
couldnt get home. He feels abandoned by the Irish
Government. He feels an alien. He cant go back.
Then I talked to two kids, a girl and a boy who were
forced to emigrate because there are no jobs. And they
blame the incompetence and the gangsterism of the
Government for being forced to emigrate.
Byrne stepped down as Irelands cultural ambassador
at the end of last year.
"It was a tremendous achievement what we did in two
years. I was really disappointed the way all those
contacts, all that hard work was just dropped and it
really made me disillusioned and disappointed with this
Government who go on about their love for culture for
arts and actually really dont give a toss about it."