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09-10-2000 Government receives Cyber Champion award


Today is a very special occasion. On the one hand, I think most of us can agree that it is rare for any Government to be recognised for its good qualities and it is even rarer to be showered with an award to press the point home.

In fact, today, after twenty three years in public life, you see me facing a very rare difficulty namely how to handle PRAISE !!

Your kind remarks reminded me of the great quote from a great Irish dramatist Micheál Mac Liammoir in 1974 who quipped "What a paradise Ireland would be if it had as much respect for the living as it does for the dead". I might paraphrase today to say "What a paradise Ireland is when a serving Government is the subject of such praise for having the right policies !!".

So, warm thanks to the Business Software Alliance for this award in recognition of our work to promote the growth of the software industry in Ireland and internationally. Indeed, being the first recipient of this award in Europe gives us particular pleasure, as it is a very positive and significant endorsement of our efforts to stay ahead in the competitive high-tech and communications industries.

The Irish owned software sector now employs over 10,000 people from a very low base eight or nine years ago. The value of software exports has been growing at over 30 per cent a year in recent years and as a result we are now the biggest exporter of software products in the world.

As Taoiseach, I personally see this CYBERChampion Award as very strong backing for the Government's plans to build strong software and high technology industries here in Ireland and to make Ireland an e-business centre. Key steps we have taken to achieve that goal include reshaping our telecommunications infrastructure, introducing the new Electronic Commerce Act , the new Copyright Act as well as taxation policies at levels that are fair, which reward effort and promote success.

Today's award signals great confidence by many of the leading IT companies in our approach here in Ireland and we thank you for that.

In honouring the Government, you honour all those who have worked with us to promote a strong software industry in Ireland and I dedicate this award to all the team who have made today possible and all the people in the software industry in Ireland.

I am thinking of my own colleagues Tánaiste, Mary Harney,T.D., Minister for Public Enterprise Mary O'Rourke T.D., and Ministers Tom Kitt T.D., and Noel Treacy, T.D., but also of the teams of civil servants across Departments who worked to craft Irish solutions to the global problem of piracy.

The eCommerce Act, is a ground breaking legislation. It creates a light legal framework to facilitate the growth of eBusiness in Ireland and is rightly seen as a model of how to frame a solution which works for the common good, as well as the good of the industry.

The Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000 which we also passed earlier this year gives us copyright protection for the new economy and the new information age. Specific provisions include measures against "smart card" forgery and measures that support rights management.

Following some necessary preparatory work, including the making of a number of Statutory Instruments, we expect the Act to commence in late November - possibly through a number of commencement orders.

We are also pressing on with the eCommerce Directive - which will facilitate the free movement of Information Society services between the Member States of the European Union. I know that the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment will be publishing a consultation document about the directive on its web site within the next few weeks.

As ever in Ireland comments and inputs from interested parties will be welcomed - and no doubt, many here will have valuable contributions to make. We value our capacity here in Ireland to listen to the voices of the consumer as well as the concerns of business and I want to see that close relationship maintained going forward as we shape the new regulatory landscape at EU and national level.

I am pleased also to announce that the Minister for Finance, Mr. Charlie McCreevy, T.D., will issue revised and updated standards to Government Departments and Offices changing existing policies concerning the use of software. The aim is to further raise awareness and to ensure that Departments, and Bodies under their aegis, have an effective software compliance programme in place. These will build on and reinforce the existing standards, thus promoting best practice across the Public Sector.


But the Government itself is also working hard to use the power of the new technologies to do its job better by getting public services on line. Key steps we have taken include

the Revenue on-line service, which provides an increasing array of on-line services and which went live on 29th of September; and

the FAS on-line jobs service.

Only a few weeks ago we launched the new REACH agency to work with the Government to find the best way to deliver their services electronically.

We have also initiated the Cabinet Project which will bring the benefits of modern technologies right to the highest level at decision making in Government - the Cabinet table.

Finally, let me close by thanking the Business Software Alliance again for this award which is a further sign that our continuing efforts to promote the right business climate are paying off.

I want to assure you of my full support and backing in your work to build a strong software industry in Ireland and in Europe and to make sure that we put in place regulatory and economic policies which promote prosperity for all of us.

Thank you.