Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)
Monday, October 19, 2015
Convention Centre, Dublin
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Good morning ladies and gentleman. It is a pleasure to welcome you to Dublin and to ICANN 54. I know that there are delegates here from all over the world, and I hope you can take time to explore and enjoy our great city.
This venue is a fitting location for ICANN's 54th meeting – its first visit to Ireland. We are a stone's throw away from many of the businesses that comprise Dublin's internet and digital heartland.
More to the point, we are right beside the 18th century port walls – our historic link to the outside world, and the point of departure for many thousands of Irish emigrants.
Few countries have benefitted from the transformative power of the Internet, socially and economically, to the extent that Ireland has.
We are home to nine of the top 10 global software companies, 10 of the top global ICT companies, and the top 10 "born on the internet companies" all have significant operations here in Ireland.
Because we are an Island, we have long been limited by the simple facts of geography in trade, transport, energy, and access to markets. But online, we are no longer an island.
The growth of online and weightless services has allowed us become a hub for a range of businesses. We have realised many of the benefits that greater connectivity brings, be it through improved access to information and learning, better access to public services, or less tangible things like the ability to speak face-to-face with loved ones across great distances.
Today, the digital economy represents 5% of Irish GDP and we expect this to rise to 10% by 2020.
It employs almost 100,000 people directly and indirectly. And traditional sectors like farming and retail are increasingly embracing technology to improve competitiveness and extend their national and global reach.
The Irish Government is determined to widen and deepen our digital society so that the benefits of greater connectivity can be realised by all of our citizens, regardless of their economic and educational background, and regardless of where they happen to live.
We are creating an environment that promotes and encourages digital innovation, and a culture that nurtures future generations of digital savvy citizens and Internet users.
Some of us can remember a time before the Internet. In little more than 20 years, we have witnessed the evolution of the Internet into something that is central to our daily lives – one that is used by individuals to exercise their fundamental right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds.
We expect these rights to continue and expand, as we see more innovations that will deliver even greater benefits.
I believe we have a responsibility to ourselves, and to future generations, to preserve the conditions that allowed the development of the open, free and unitary Internet that we enjoy today.
ICANN has played an important role in coordinating and developing the domain name system that serves the global community. We must exercise great care when considering any changes to the systems that underpin the Internet's successful operation.
The decisions we make about how we govern and use the Internet are felt by a growing global community of users.
I believe that this diverse and vibrant community must have a voice in how the Internet is governed. So I welcome and applaud the decision of the United States Government to give voice to this community, and to facilitate the transition to a truly multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance.
I commend the work of all those who have devoted so much of their time and energy to engage with the multi-stakeholder process.
Ireland firmly supports the multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance. And I am hopeful that this week will mark the successful agreement of the proposal to enhance ICANN accountability, leading ultimately to the successful transition of the stewardship of the IANA function to the multi-stakeholder community.
These are not simple issues, and I am fully aware there are strongly held views, on all sides, about how this process might come to a conclusion. Nevertheless, I am sure that with a little goodwill and a lot of coffee, this meeting can come to a productive and successful conclusion.
I wish you all well in your work, and look forward to seeing you back in Dublin again soon.