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Competition seeks to 'transform' the Irish economy

Mary McAleese
President Mary McAleese invoked the cooperative spirit of past generations

A competition to "transform" the ailing Irish economy has offered cash prizes to those who can come up with new ideas to create jobs and prosperity.

Organisers have offered 100,000 euros for the best two ideas, with a further 500,000 euros earmarked to implement the plans of each winning entry.

The President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, is the patron of the 'Your Country, Your Call' competition.

She said "radical thinking" was needed "to put Ireland back on its feet".

The president's husband, Dr Martin McAleese, is also involved in organising the competition, and publicity adverts for the scheme include contributions from folk singer Christy Moore and a host of Irish television presenters.

'National crisis'

The not-for-profit team behind the competition said its aim was to create "something that will make a long-term, positive impact on the future of Ireland, its people, and its economy".

The president has also filmed publicity material for the scheme, and from her presidential mansion in Dublin she described the last decade as a rollercoaster ride, in which the Republic of Ireland travelled from "an economic high to a national crisis".

Against a soundtrack of epic music and a backdrop of archive images of Irish farm workers, Mrs McAleese invokes the "cooperative spirit of all those generations that have passed before" and tells her nation it has the "strength to move mountains".

Full funding for the scheme has been provided by "Irish and non-Irish corporations, as well as a small number of Irish firms and individuals" and is open to international entrants as well as Irish citizens.

The proposals will be judged by the former Irish Attorney General, David Byrne, who will lead a "decision-making team" which is yet to be unveiled.

Martin Murphy, managing director, of technology company HP Ireland and member of the the competition's steering group, said it should be an "inspiring initiative."

"We are proud to have been involved from conception of what started out as a conversation among a small group of people and has evolved to this great competition."

The closing date for submissions is 30 April.



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