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Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary the main draw at midlands business event

Agency’s vastly experienced Events team busy last week as 600 business leaders gather for Michael O’Leary-fronted breakfast briefing, writes Aideen Ginnell.

The event – ‘Business in the Midlands’ – was the brainchild of Longford/Westmeath TD Robert Troy, who told the much-anticipated gathering that the region has the potential to be an “economic powerhouse” thanks to its unique combination of accessibility, available space and attractive quality of life.

Event management

Having a long-standing connection with Deputy Troy, Cullen Communications was drafted in on the organisation side, which involved promoting the event across local, national and social media to maximise attendance as well as liaising with the venue on all aspects of the event management.

Word travelled fast and the event was a complete sell-out, with more than 600 local business people packed into the elegant Lir Suite of the Mullingar Park Hotel for a good early start.

MC for the day was Olivia O’Leary, the renowned journalist and broadcaster, who introduced the speakers, oversaw questions from the audience and added a touch of sophistication to the occasion.


Before and after: More than 600 local business people were up bright and early for our 'Business in the Midlands' breakfast briefing

Enterprise Ireland, IDA in attendance

Both Enterprise Ireland and the IDA were represented at the briefing, listening with interest as Deputy Troy outlined why “any international company that is considering Ireland should be looking closely at the midlands”.

“This is one of the most accessible parts of the country with an outstanding road and rail network, plenty of available space for companies to set up and expand, as well as a ready supply of young, educated workers thanks to the Institute of Technology in Athlone,” he told the gathering.

The main attraction, however, was Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary who lives with his family in Westmeath and is a long-time supporter of enterprise in the midlands.

Michael O’Leary’s headline news

Never short of a headline-grabbing comment or three, O’Leary was in sparkling form as he addressed a range of issues including why lowering the cost of access will maintain Ireland’s competitiveness in the uncertain post-Brexit era.

On Ireland Inc:

  • “We live on an island on the periphery of Europe and yet we were taxing people to come here which is a pretty dumb economic policy,” he said. “Having scrapped that tax, we have seen traffic to this island grow by 40% in the past five to six years so reducing the cost of access works, while keeping the cost of access low means that tourism has never been better.”

On Brexit:

  • “Britain is in a difficult position over Brexit and they have no idea where it is going. They are in danger of running themselves off the edge of a cliff in the next couple of years and we’ll all suffer. There is still a possibility that Britain will double back on Brexit by leaving the EU but staying in the single market - either way it’s going to be hugely challenging for Ireland to deal with.”

On business in the midlands:

  • “Small businesses must aim high, don’t forget that all businesses were once small businesses. And don’t forget either than Mullingar is the only town in Ireland that has produced two CEOs [O’Leary himself and Brian Corcoran of Paddy Power] currently among the top 10 PLCs in the country.”
On career choices:
  • “Encourage your children to get into IT – they’ll never be out of a job!”

After a brief Q&A, guests slowly dispersed into the cold November morning and back to the day job. The briefing generated substantial coverage across all platforms; another event successfully executed.


Aideen Ginnell is a Senior Client Executive with Cullen Communications, specializing in Public Affairs. To discuss event management or the ‘Business in the Midlands’ conference, please contact Aideen on (01) 668 9099

Topics: PR, events

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