Tánaiste pays tribute to 'friend of Ireland' Bill Gates

Billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates has praised Ireland’s development and aid work.

The Microsoft founder, who now campaigns on the need to vaccinate for diseases, met Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore for an hour this morning ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Mr Gilmore said Mr Gates paid tribute to Ireland’s commitment to ending world poverty, hunger and disease.

“He paid tribute to Ireland for the work we are doing in development aid and the fact that we have stabilised our own aid budget in these difficult economic circumstances,” he said.

“It was very much a working meeting.

“The Gates Foundation has a very strong commitment to the same objectives that Ireland has in the area of development aid.

“And ending poverty, hunger and disease are our shared objectives.”

Mr Gilmore described Mr Gates as a “friend of Ireland”.

He said it was clear the friendship Gates feels for Ireland was born, not just from his business experience with the country, but with the work they have done together in the area of development.

The computer entrepreneur established the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000, which has since spent €25bn on development initiatives in more than 100 programme countries.

He has previously pledged $41m (€30.8m) to Irish aid agency Concern to help fight spiralling baby and mother death rates in developing countries.

Discussions also included Ireland’s position in Europe and negotiations regarding the seven-year European Budget.

Mr Gilmore also said Mr Gates had backed Ireland’s chances of a full economic recovery and that he had confidence the country would return to growth.

Gates is said to be visiting a number of European countries ahead of a World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

During his trip to Dublin, he also met President Michael D Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin and met U2 frontman and aid campaigner Bono last night at a Dublin hotel.

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