Paddy Angryman



From top: Paddy Cosgrave; with Dr Gavin Jennings (centre) and unidentified ‘suit’

This morning.

Further to tensions between the Web Summit and the government summit founder Paddy Cosgrave appeared on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland earlier to explain why Lisbon will host next year’s event.

Features: lies, hush money and traffic restrictions.

Dr Gavin Jennings: ‘Welcome back to the RDS Simmonscourt where we often bring you election campaigns but this morning is full of Technology trade stands, the smell of coffee, al ot of very young people, very tight jeans and very strange beards. It’s the Web Summit where people who want to make it in the Tech Industry get to meet people who already have. Founders of big companies like Instagram, Pixar and Tinder are here, Henry Ford’s grandson is here, in the huge seated area with a big stage just outside our studio, and Facebook stand where you can try out their oculus VR, take yourself to another world we’re told. Speakers will include author Dan Browne and Tour de France winner Chris Froome. Paddy Cosgrave is the organiser of the event which started in 2010 with 400 people and this year expects over 40,000 visitors. Paddy, thank you very much for coming to our pop up studio.I just see in the welcoming note that you’ve sent to people who are coming here ‘It rains alot in Ireland but rarely heavily. We strongly advise you bring a strong compact umbrella just in case.’Your visitors must be stunned at what they’re seeing here today.”

Paddy Cosgrave: “Oh the weather is absolutely incredible. What a November day.”

Jennings: “You’re also warning about problems with public transport.”

Cosgrave: “Yeah, I think when you bring a huge amount of people from around the world to what is a small city that’s already under strain on a daily basis it’s only going to accentuate the problem so we advise people to walk to and from the venue.”

Jennings: “Why are you not coming back next year?”

Cosgrave: “I think the Web Summit just got too big for the city. I think that over the last two years the strain that the city itself has been under is pretty obvious – you pick it up on twitter and certainly from the feedback from attendees – we just needed to find a bigger home. And we found one.”

Jennings: “The problems that you experienced, that you highlighted, that you wanted worked on, are they any better this year?”

Cosgrave: “Em, I think time will tell. I’m optimistic that there is some traffic calming measures around the RDS. I think that will alleviate traffic both for residents and for people that have flown in to Dublin.”

Jennings: “For those who haven’t followed the story, you released on social media a lot of exchanges between yourself and the department of the Taoiseach. I’m not going to go through it all again now, but you highlighted things that you wanted done and that weren’t done or at least not to your satisfaction and that’s why you say you’re moving to Lisbon next year. Do you regret how that all panned out now?”

Cosgrave: “Well, I actually think it’s a very interesting situation. There are serious issues in this country like homelessness, we’ve a health crisis. I do think this is a very opportunistic tack by the government. Ultimately the Web Summit is not that important at the end of the day to ordinary people’s lives. The way it’s has played out, the way it has been spun out and the lies that have been told the government, I think, are just a useful and practical distraction from the day to day beating that they take from the Irish Media.

Jennings: ‘What sort of lies?’

Cosgrave: “So if you look actually at the context of the email. Over a great many years we were flagging that we were receiving, as they rightly point out, taxpayers money. They gave us over €750,000 and consistently, year after year, we said that we were ultimately embarrassed that we were given this money to pay for exhibition stands and that the state agencies responsible were doing so little to realise any return on investment. So if you look at the emails you’ll see that ministers from all over Europe have been and are coming to this event without ever being invited. They just know the event is on and they make it their business to be here.
What do they do when they come here? They look to meet with high level attendees, they hold bilateral meetings with them and they try to develop relationships. Why do they do that? Because they’re interested in helping the businesses in their countries ultimately.
What has happened over the last four years in the case of the Web Summit is that I have no recollection of an Irish Minister ever meeting with a high level delegate.
Last year the British sent a Minister here for two days. He didn’t look for photos beside Enterprise Ireland or the IDA stand. He said he spent two days doing non stop bilateral meetings. What did No. 10 Downing St. do? They opened the doors of their offices to delegations that flew out of Dublin into London to meet with high level civil servants and politicians. It was all about trade. That has been repeated again here this week. There are Ministers from countries large and small; they were never invited by us, they just show up. They’re here to help their countries. What we received over a four year period in my eyes amounts to nothing more than hush money. We were supposed to accept this and then lavish the government in praise, which we did publicly for four years. What we did behind the scenes was try and push them time and time and again and try to get them to realise that this was an opportunity for Irish Businesses and they did not take that opportunity. I’d be happy to read out further emails that I have not released that go back further than 2015, into 2014 and 2013.”

Jennings: ‘You sound very angry about the way this has all turned out. Is there any way back for the web summit to Dublin?’

Cosgrave:” I’m absolutely of the belief that Dublin is an absolutely fantastic venue for any conference. The fact that we do not have a conference industry makes it very difficult for conferences at scale or conferences of any type to operate in this city. Nevertheless, I think it’s a fantastic city and we’d always welcome any opportunity to come back in to Ireland.”

Jennings:: “I don’t want to go into all the details as a lot of them have been trawled over before but some people will have problems with, I mean you’re a big business man now, and you’re asking for fees to be waived for garda escorts and traffic management, did you really ask for garda escort for VIP millionaires?”

“No, first of all those escorts were provided and offered to us in the past. So if you look at that email, what happened, and I would call it a very clever move by civil servants, they asked us to give them a wishlist, absolutely everything we thought they could possibly do for us that was reasonable., that was the starting point, that was 2014. If you look at all of the correspondence in 2015 that relates to 2016 at no point, at no point did we ask for any money. Instead we offered the State €1,000,000 euro worth of exhibition space, costs that are paid by other governments all over the world from Mexico to Brazil to Israel. So just to ultimately stress, I believe that this is just a distraction from the real issues that really impact people on a day to day basis. It’s a piece that really is of no consequence come an election, and it’s helpful to distract people, from the government’s point of view. And the idea that a Minister needs a formal invitation to show up here…”

Jennings: ‘You issued an invitation to the Taoiseach on Friday night?’

Cosgrave: ‘Well, first of all he was invited in May and those discussions began in May and everyone is perfectly aware they came to nothing. On Friday every TD, Senator, Minister was issued with an invite.’

Cosgrave: ‘It’s clear from what you describe and from your emails and you said it to me there at the beginning that you felt you have outgrown Dublin, that Dublin wasn’t capable of putting on this event any more. Had you your mind already made up …. ‘

[talk over each other]

Cosgrave: ‘Let me read you an email from 2013 based on my experience dealing with the State Agency Enterprise Ireland, in this country. I can honestly say that I am uncomfortable working with any organisation, in particular one funded using taxpayer money, that seems to have achieved so little yet invested so much time, money and resources in Web Summit. Logos and photos might impress in annual reports but spin can not completely obscure the reality and that reality is in this case somewhat concerning.
That was 2013. Publicly, we always lavished the government in praise, privately we were constantly trying to work to get politicians to do what other governments around Europe were doing at Web Summit and that was quite simply focusing not on photo opportunities but focusing on opportunities to do business and today there are ministers from countries as large as France and as small as Kosovo outside doing the work that they have been elected to do.

Jennings: ‘Do you think that the other governments, like the Portuguese, might be nervous that you put correspondence with the Irish government so readily into Social Media that you might do the same to them if you don’t get what you want from them?’

Cosgrave: ‘So that correspondence was due to be released in any case, the following day, under Freedom of Information requests and FOI applies all across Europe, it’s no different in Ireland.

Jennings: “I’ll come back to what I asked you a little earlier on: Do you see a way back for the event coming to Dublin? It doesn’t sound like it.”

Cosgrave: “So we now have events in Hong Kong, in the United States in New Orleans, and in India all growing faster than the Web Summit, so what we do is build conferences that bring people together all over the world and we started in Dublin five years ago. We’ve got a lot better, we’re now launching conferences in other cities around Europe. I would see absolutely no reason why we would not launch conferences in Dublin. It’s a fantastic city.”

Jennings: “So you think you could come back here?”

‘Absolutely, why not?”

Jennings: ‘Paddy Cosgrave, organiser of the Web Summit, thank you very much for speaking with us this morning.’

Previously: How The Web Summit Was Lost


92 thoughts on “Paddy Angryman

    1. Martin

      it’s not really. unless you’re a hotelier or a taximan……or one of the food stalls getting €20 for a burger and water.

      1. classter

        But there are lots of hoteliers & taximen.
        And all sorts of other people in the tourist industry.

        It also brings a reasonable cross-section of decision-makers in the world’s fastest-growing industry to Dublin.

        It helped to create (& sustain) a brand for Dublin of it being Europe’s internet business capital.

        Which helps to attract other businesses.


    2. Charger Salmons

      It’s not just the event but the fact that no Irish government ministers or civil servants are there pressing the flesh and trying to set up deals.
      As ever the UK is on the ball,sneaking a Minister in under the radar to do the sort of legwork that the Paddies should be doing if they weren’t busy skulling lunchtime pints in the Leinster House bar.
      Enda,meanwhile,continues to be a national embarrassment.

      1. Owen C

        you’re right, the IDA and Enterprise Ireland are terrible at this sort of stuff. Thanks for correctly rewriting 35 years+ of previously assumed history.

    1. Medium Sized C

      I’m inclined to agree.
      Which to me begs the question…. Why is he only saying most of this now?

      1. rotide

        Hasn’t he been saying it for the last month?

        Haven’t paid much attention apart from the main points which seem to amount to a he said/she said as someone pointed out below.

        1. Medium Sized C

          He seems to be covering a lot there that he was not covering in the months up to now.
          I could be wrong like.
          He has been moaning, but not with such practised clarity.

  1. TomRed

    Too big for Dublin, eh? Very opportunist tack, was it?
    €50 for branded WebSummit hoodies – that’s opportunistic.
    Eye-watering ticket prices to pay for what exactly Paddy? Given that all the volunteers are just that – volunteers.
    Many of the startups and incubators (daft name if I ever heard one) never get to meet any of the VIPs at this event. This is a three-day all-you-can-eat- buffet of how important Web and technology are in our lives and that we should all buy into that vision without ANY criticism of Dear Leader Cosgrave.
    Our Dublin Bus driver was more than helpful to web summit visitors this morning – no need for a crass Web Pub Crawl to show off our hospitality and friendliness….
    I think the organisers need a major dose of feckin’ reality and humility to be honest….

  2. Soylent Fart

    unfortunately when your country is run by greedy short sighted simpletons it is hard to compete with the well educated world out there.

    1. jeanclaudetrichet

      It’s all the governments fault,
      It’s all the governments fault,
      It’s all the governments fault,
      It’s all the governments fault……


    2. classter

      I agree & disagree with you, Soylent Fart.

      Really the Taoiseach should not be involved in the organisation of a conference. The city councils in Dublin should be bending over backwards to they possibly can to facilitate the conference – traffic, public transport, etc. If the DCC does not have enough power to do that, then they should be given it.

      The issue of how the govt uses or doesn;t use the Summit as a forum for attracting investment is a separate one.

  3. donal


    When did people start beginning sentences with so…

    annoys me no end, couldn’t give a toss about the rest of this story though, we’ve always had incompetent governments and we probably always will so that’s not really news

    1. Fergus the magic postman

      So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell,
      blue skies from pain.
      Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?
      A smile from a veil?
      Do you think you can tell?

    2. Spaghetti Hoop

      The ‘So’ thing on the radio is increasing. Nobody answers questions anymore; they just reel off rehearsed patter, which makes for a very disjointed debate or conversation.

      1. isallimsaying

        In due course, therefore accordingly I feel that in such manner as has been stated for the same stated reason to such an extent thereafter in order that ehh…so what.
        I counted 14 meaningless ‘so’s’ in under 10 minutes. So I need a life.

  4. Annie

    While Cosgrave has a natural unlikeability to him (might explain his success), he does raise interesting and valid points about the commitment of our government and its agencies to drawing out the maximum benefit for the state from the Web Summit, beyond the cringe-inducing photo opportunities. I fear though that while other countries send clued-in, well-briefed officials to the event to get as much as they can for their countries of origin, we, no doubt, send government officials with no plan of action and I’ll bet, only a passing understanding of what the Summit is all about.

    On a side note, I didn’t realise Paddy Cosgrave’s partner is Irish model Faye Dinsmore. Bound to wind his detractors up another notch.

  5. timble

    The Web summit is built on the tech companies that were here long before it was a twinkle in Paddy’s eye. IDA Ireland know how to get in the room with those guys and gals and have been doing it for many years.

    1. AlisonT

      Have to agree, he is an event organiser not an IT business. Perhaps the Irish Government were busy dealing with all the top IT companies they have brought to Ireland instead of an event specialist.

    2. Mario Balotelli

      Agree totally, IDA Ireland know their stuff. This guy’s moaning is getting a little wearing. If he’s such a top operator can’t he sort out a bit of high density wifi? Give it a rest Paddy, head off to Portugal so.

  6. Toe up

    Paddy Cosgrave seems to me to be a bit of a Tony Robbins type character, becoming successful by preying on other peoples’ desire to become successful.

    1. All the good ones fly south for winter

      Tony Robbins of Baskin Robbins or Tony Robbins of I shot your parents?

  7. Owen C

    Cpsgrave: “Cosgrave: “Well, I actually think it’s a very interesting situation. There are serious issues in this country like homelessness, we’ve a health crisis. I do think this is a very opportunistic tack by the government. Ultimately the Web Summit is not that important at the end of the day to ordinary people’s lives. The way it’s has played out, the way it has been spun out and the lies that have been told the government, I think, are just a useful and practical distraction from the day to day beating that they take from the Irish Media.”

    I’m very confused here. This was an “opportunistic tack” by the government, even though Paddy actually released all the documents out into the world and gave this argument the fuel to become a national headline? This is bizarre. His PR on this whole issue has been horrific. Maybe its bourne from frustation at dealing with the government/state agencies, but it’s made him look very bad. The mention of it being a distraction from the homelessness debate is also incredibly disingenuous in my view. It may have been a government-led PR campaign to make sure the blame for losing the WebSummit was apportioned elsewhere, but i dont see how he can claim this was a fabricated issue to take the focus from elsewhere. Btw, on the question of getting free services, Paddy again answers with “we didnt ask for a penny”. Thats not an answer to the question of getting free stuff. He also seems to suggest that “clever moves by civil servants” began as early as 2014. I mean, this guy is making this sh1t up as he goes.

    1. _d_a_n_

      You’re completely right. The scary thing is it sounds like he actually believes what he’s saying.

    2. Brendan

      I don’t understand what he’s trying to achieve by any of this either. I mean the reason given for leaving Ireland is that it has “outgrown” Dublin. Fine. Why bring the actions or inactions of Ministers into it? Their level of engagement is something that will never be completely established one way or the other, so nothing definitive could come from the mud-slinging. I would have thought it would have made more sense to put anything that had happened aside and move on to Lisbon with a clean nose, and without starting WS2015 on a negative note.

    3. classter

      Is the point not that he released the correspondence because the govt were spinning lies about how/why the WebSummit were moving to Lisbon?

  8. Pardon

    I can’t wait to hear Dan Browne’s description of the summit, a swarm of nerds and techies infiltrating the leafy green suburbs of Dublin, which is the capital city of Ireland where the swivel , green eyed politicians of that great nation prefer to take a bang rather than a buck.

  9. phil

    I think the spin runs deeper that paddy thinks or knows… I’m still waiting for our IT company to hire just one of the 70 or so jobs Richard Bruton announced to great fanfare with journos and photos , we even have the photos framed and up in Reception….

    This all have a very familiar whiff of the boom years…. Much disliked Casandra’s shouting about disaster, and well fed insiders who will be untouched by calamity in the real economy telling them to shut up and telling the rest of us that everything is GRAND….

    1. Kieran NYC

      So YOUR crappy IT company’s broken promise to hire the people it told Bruton it would is suddenly his fault?!

      1. classter

        No but it does raise questions about the time spent ‘announcing’ jobs rather than enacting, then implementing thoughtful, effective policies.

        1. Kieran NYC

          If a Minister *didn’t* come to announce jobs, the same heads would be moaning that he doesn’t care about job creation.

          And the unemployment rate has dropped to 9.3% yesterday. Pretty effective if you ask me.

      2. Deluded

        By that measure, Kieran, Iceland had the right approach. (26 people jailed for the whole economic blah-de-blah and an unemployment rate of 4.3%)
        Accountability for our hitherto third-rate communications infrastructure might focus the minds more than this waffle; companies like British Telecom, who pioneered fibrecabling here, did more than anyone to actually promote tech in Ireland.
        The WebSummit is an expensive conference, fair play, but nothing more than that; the idea that it influences the geography of internet provision is laughable.

  10. DubLoony

    A colleague is there now.
    Delegates who have paid ridiculous ticket prices have to pay an extra €20 for food!
    The food summit that was there last year isn’t mentioned – wonder what happened there?

    He was looking for free leap cards, garda escorts and control of hotel prices (anyone try get a room in Cardiff for the Rugby recently?), street closures etc.

    He is entertaining a gathering of capitalists, expecting state to pay in kind, charging silly ticket prices while the work is being done by unpaid interns.
    He is an events organizer. A very successful one but a pain in the ass.

    There’s an opening next year for a proper developer tech conference in Dublin, if anyone wants in on it.

    1. phil

      Fair enough, but whats wrong with dreaming big , the mistake he made was trying to do it all himself, and opening his mouth publicly , who runs the big golfing tournaments , no clue, because the deals are done quietly …

      What I find amazing is …. Its like paddy grew up in a vacuum , If you were to setup a summit, would you really expect any Irish Government to understand what you were trying to do or have the vision to see what could be useful to the economy regarding the summit, I wouldnt hold my breath …

      1. classter

        No but like any citizen he may find that acceptance frustrating.

        Especially if he feels (rightly or wrongly) that he has seen the reality & it is not impressive.

    2. Medium Sized C

      Its not an opening.
      They have momentum, the major tech heads who go to WebSummit will be at WebSummit next year.
      In Lisbon.
      Regardless of what is on next year in the RDS.

      1. Owen C

        I question whether they will travel in quite as large numbers from the US. You basically have 2 direct flights from Lisbon to the East Coast of the US most days (NYC x2). Zero to the mid west or west coast. Dublin is a hell of a lot more accessible (14 flights to the US most days, including West Coast), particularly when you add in the (relative) ease of transferring on to regular flights in both directions via LHR.

      2. DubLoony

        Funny thing is, a lot of techies aren’t there. There are sales, marketing, finance people there.
        But a proper developer conference is missing.

        1. Medium Sized C

          When I say heads, I mean heads.
          I’m not from Dublin.

          In reference to the point, nobody needs to listen to developers talking. There are numerous conferences and regular meetups for devs to listen to each other. Vibrant ones which serve the industry.

          Over the years most of the big names… Founders, CTO’s from major tech have been there. There are some serious tech figures in the tech industry speaking this year, not just sales people.

    3. rotide

      I don’t remember a lot of conferences of this scale which attracted the names and personalities that this one does before it existed. If someone can repeat the feat i would be surprised.

      It sure as hell won’t be the paddy detractors here though.

  11. Manta Rae

    Poor Paddy. Looks like the faceless civil servants have played him big time. Hard to imagine anyone wanting to do business with rent-a-gob now.

  12. Pretendgineer

    The “We don’t want a penny claim” is utter bullpoo, especially given his demands for free Garda escorts for VIPs and streets closed down for his private pissup at the end of it all.

    Or maybe they were meant to volunteer for the exposure and networking that would bring like all the other volunteers that he doesn’t pay.

    1. classter

      Did you listen to the interview. Paddy addresses that point,

      One may not be convinced by his answer but your response suggests that you are merely mouthing off without even listening to the interview first!

  13. Jake38

    Giant ego meets traditional Irish public service mediocrity/incompetence. Predictable he said/she said result. Yawn.

  14. HappyDub

    I can fly to London cheaper than I can buy a burger at the WebSummit. It was always going to be a matter of time before these charlatans moved on to fleece another country.

  15. Junkface

    He was right to move the summit to Lisbon. The Government have fupped up again, they’re a clueless bunch of bureaucratic gombeens stuck in the 80’s. They pretend that they engage in whats going on in the Technology sector, but they haven’t a clue. “Throw them some money, and we won’t have to turn up”.

    Regardless of whether the summit was ripping off customers with high prices, Fine Gael and Labour missed the point of the Web summit.
    They won’t be able to charge so much in Portugal, they are broke!

    1. ahjayzis

      Rather, throw them some money and we show up to take a few snaps for the election leaflet and feck the actual economic opportunities. Basically public money for personal PR for the ministers / officials involved.

  16. Mr. T.

    All his cheerleaders are the type who complain about dole spongers yet here’s their hero demanding money off the government for a privately owned event.

    Fupp off to Lisbon with your Disneyland.

  17. Bingo

    Is the RDS the best place to even hold this type of event?
    Built in 1700s (?) and in a terrible location….

  18. Mourinho

    Stop telling Ministers what to do Paddy.
    Next year we’ll be footing the bill for a dozen of them heading on holidays to Lisbon.
    Besides, a five minute conversation with most TDs could turn a business off the idea of setting up here.

  19. george

    Tickets cost between 1 and 5 thousand euro. The exhibitors pay at least two grand for a stand. The speakers are not paid. Paddy wanted 30,000 free Leap cards for these people who can afford to pay these prices to his organisation…

  20. Ban Doyle

    I think paddy is a great bloke and to be fair he’s completely wasting his time trying to do what he is trying to do with the sort of idiots who pass for government in this country. he’s better off out of it

    1. HappyDub

      Greatly misquoted Henry Ford.
      What he actually said was: “you can have it any colour, as long as you’re not black”.

  21. Freddy Laker

    Listen, Paddy is a good guy.
    I saw that immediately when I met him outside the Dail Bar (selling subscriptions) when he was running his startup
    He said “MiCandidate will revolutionise how citizens interact with electoral candidates”.
    Unfortunately, it folded.
    Not Paddys fault.
    It was the bloody politicians fault, obviously.
    They wouldn’t pull out their wallets.
    That Revolution wasn’t televised.

    Paddy is great. He understands The System.
    He is prepared to “Publicly, lavish the government in praise” whilst privately whinging for more cash.
    Such double standards are essential in business.
    It keeps business moving ahead, and politicians looking good.
    Honesty is a little naive after all.
    As an impresario, he’s up there with Paul McGuinness.
    We should be proud of him.

    Someone mentioned his hot girlfriend.
    I don’t see why she’s relevant here.
    Just because she’s a model? And a ‘social entrepreneur’, with a fashion line?
    Fashion is a big part of this years WS – Wearables are huge after all.
    Because her business was launched at a well-priced stand at last years WS?
    Because she’s on socialite media?
    Because she has a dog?
    Called ‘Fluffy’?

    We should leave her out of this debate and focus on the facts.

    Paddy is one of us.
    He’s a top bloke.
    His kegger gets all the chicks.

    Ivy Leaguers and Etonians love Web Summit.
    Bono and Dennis OB love a good Summit.
    Liam Cunningham (of Lillies Bordello) loves Web Summit.
    (And he’s and edgy, working class bloke).
    So we should stop our whinging.

    Paddy has done well for himself.
    That should be our ultimate goal after all.
    He rang the bell.
    He opened the door.
    And he pulled our chain.

    Sure, he’s positioned Ireland as a nation of toffs who rely on old-boy networks to get sh1t done.
    And we support The System that made him what is is.

    A Tosser.

  22. Frilly Keane

    For a moment
    Mattie McGrath and Mickie Healy Rae taking a wander around
    Shaking hands with dudes
    High Fiving and Fist Bumping the skinny jeans hairy faced visitors….
    Asking lads “what class ah’yoke is dis ah’tall”
    Fooling around with the funny goggles
    Slipping the fancy T-shirt on over the suit

    Now picture
    Paddy ….

Comments are closed.