Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Londonderry will act like a magnet for the massive Irish emigrant population across the world during its year as UK City of Culture in 2013.
Mr Kenny was speaking to a select audience — which included former US President Bill Clinton and other influential figures such as Declan Kelly and Loretta Glucksman of the American Ireland Fund — during the Global Economic Forum.
He used the opportunity at Dublin Castle at the weekend to spell out his support for Derry during meetings with business and cultural leaders from all over the island.
He urged them to get involved with Derry while guest of honour at a City of Culture corporate engagement event organised by the Culture Company and Grafton Recruitment.
During that event, Mr Kenny said he believed the Irish diaspora would be very supportive of the City of Culture.
“Derry will carry the flame all around the world for culture and people will want to come to Ireland for 2013,” Mr Kenny said.
“City of Culture will provide a great opportunity for those people with roots here to come back and revisit their heritage during 2013.
“It will be an event that people will still be talking about in 2023 and 2033 when they are sitting in traffic jams on the Brooklyn Bridge.”
Mr Kenny revealed that he had close links to the north west, through his mother, who came from Malin Head in Co Donegal.
“I want to be a part of it, and I assure you that the arts organisations in the south will also support City of Culture fully,” he said.
“I look forward to going to Derry for some of the events in 2013 and will do what I can to endorse it.”
Shona McCarthy, chief executive of the Culture Company, said the Dublin event had allowed corporate leaders and cultural stakeholders from all over Ireland to learn more about City of Culture.
Expressing delight at their universal backing for the project, she said: “We believe this event marks the start of new artistic and business connections across Ireland.
“We are convinced that the City of Culture project will prove to be an all-island celebration of our rich cultural heritage,” she said.
Mr Clinton told hundreds of influential figures from the Irish diaspora at the forum in Dublin that the world holds Ireland in high regard, with a lot of resources and wealth still untapped.
“This country made a big macro economic decision when you made up your mind that you would save your financial structure and not be seen as defaulting on your debt,” he said, in a reference to the bank bailout in the Republic.
“And I'm sure it made a lot of people mad because they thought we're helping people who profited out of our misery.
“It was the right decision,” he said.
Almost 300 delegates — including top names from the worlds of business, culture and industry — attended the Global Irish Economic Forum at Dublin Castle. Irish government ministers were joined by Hilary and W Galen Weston, who this year topped the Irish Sunday Times rich list, Irial Finan of Coca-Cola, PJ Hough, corporate vice-president of Microsoft and Peter Sutherland of Goldman Sachs.