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Launch of Getting Irish Business Online at Google’s EMEA Headquarters

I am delighted to be back here in the heart of Dublin’s ‘Digital Docklands’ to launch the campaign Getting Irish Business Online. It is a continuing and welcome vote of confidence in Ireland that many of the worlds’ leading technology companies such as Google have established bases here in the Dublin Docklands and throughout Ireland.

The presence of Google and other technology companies here forming a digital services hub is a very real asset to the Irish economy. Part of the challenge for the new Government is to bring our public services into the 21st century by embracing new digital services to deliver more efficient services to our citizens.

Our new Programme for Government has committed to rising to this challenge. We plan to develop Ireland as a ‘digital island’ to rapidly advance e-Government, invest in technology education and to see how concepts such as cloud computing can improve public services while delivering them at a lower cost.

Today the Government is also launching the final phase of the national broadband scheme in which we intend to extend broadband coverage to the last 1% of the country who cannot get access for mainly technical reasons. This is an important move by Government to promote the economic and social development in these rural areas.

In addition, to aid the roll out of high speed next generation broadband Ministers Pat Rabbitte and Fergus O’Dowd will be intensively engaging with the private sector in the coming weeks to see how Government can speed up investment plans. Actions such as this are not luxury options but are necessary actions if Ireland is to stay ahead of the game.

Which is what brings us to our business this afternoon.Getting Irish Business Online

As we all know, the world is changing. Moore’s Law, which stated that computer power doubles roughly every two years, defined the last fifty years of computing.

Now internet data traffic is experiencing a similar trend. No longer an emerging market, the online space will be a continually growing market for the foreseeable future.

For most businesses, having a presence online is no longer an optional extra: it’s an essential part of business in the twenty-first century.

The relevantly recent age of smart phones has transformed internet shopping again. I can pick up my iPhone while on a train and casually browse through sites and can decide there and then to buy something. Maybe even purchase a Google Android smart phone if the price was right!

If I can do it I can assure you my kids are running up a bill somewhere as we speak. It is second nature to their generation and, if it hasn’t already happened, googling something will quickly become the first port of call when shopping for something.

It is in this context that the fact that up to 40% of Irish SMEs do not have a website is deeply worrying.

It is often said that ‘there is no recession online’. Irish businesses need to be establishing themselves online now to get a foothold in the online market and to diversify their customers. In the challenging economic times that we are working to overcome it would help Irish businesses survive and keep people in jobs.

This is the value of this great initiative being launched here today. To get more Irish small business online so they can sell their goods and services from Ballina to Beijing.

Getting Irish Business Online

Training and other help will also be provided to enable small business get the most out of their website. And businesses will also have the opportunity to trial online advertising.

The Getting Irish Business Online initiative will particularly help those with limited knowledge of the internet, for whom starting a website can be a daunting task.

It will help businesses across the country take that first step into the global market and show them the opportunities there for the taking.Partner Organisations

I would like to commend Google for leading this initiative.

The Government values your contribution to our economy, and welcomes the continuing growth of your impressive operations here.

I am also delighted that Google has formed a partnership with An Post, Blacknight Solutions and the County and City Enterprise Boards.

Each brings a complementary set of skills and contacts which can ensure this initiative is a success. County and City Enterprise Boards will reach out to small enterprises across the country and An Post will offer support in setting up the element for those who wish to sell their products online.

I think it’s a great example of the public and private sectors working together to support business and to contribute to economic recovery. The job of rebuilding this economy cannot be fully achieved by Government alone. It is the challenge of every business, every entrepreneur and innovator to increase market share, and thus create more jobs. And it’s the Government’s job to help them.Economy

Although only a few short weeks in office, my Government has been working hard and making the decisions to tackle the serious economic challenges we face.

I have made one of the guiding principles of this Government to make Ireland the best small country in the world in which to do business in by 2016.

This is not empty rhetoric but a guide for my Cabinet to implement the types of changes in the Irish economy to make us competitive again. We are working towards the aim of undoing much of the damage caused by years of economic mismanagement and Governmental drift.

No more. I want to assure everyone in this audience that this new Government will be doing things very differently.

In the few short weeks since this Government was formed we have already made an impact. We are making decisions. We are moving forward.

With early banking decisions made the Government’s attention has turned to our top priorities, jobs and reform.

Tomorrow’s Jobs Initiative announcement will be a significant milestone in the Government’s plan to get Ireland working again. We will be announcing a whole series of initiatives across many sectors, all of the common goal of improving the business environment, putting people to work and, most of all, restoring a sense of confidence in our collective future.

In the coming weeks I’ll have the pleasure of welcoming Queen Elizabeth II and the President of the United States to these shores. During the recent St. Patrick’s Day visit to Washington, President Obama declared a vote of confidence in the Irish people. The President’s grandfather once told him that confidence is the secret to anyone’s success. The same too can be said of nations. While our nation continues to meet the economic challenges facing us, I welcome President Obama’s visit as a powerful symbol of the belief that others continue to have in us.

In conclusion I want to say that the Government is delighted with initiatives such as this and we will do everything in our power to help it be a success. Irish businesses need to embrace the opportunity an online presence can bring.

We want to continue to work in partnership with people like yourselves to get this message out to the world that Ireland is open for business.

Yes, the country is in a tough place. There are a great many challenges ahead of us yet. The road to recovery will not be easy.

But we will get there.

Step by step. Decision by decision.

With initiatives such as this.

Finally, I would like to wish Google and all the partner organisations every success as the initiative rolls-out in the weeks and months ahead.

Go raibh maith agaibh go léir.

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