PADDY COSGRAVE HAS apologised after Portugal’s prime minister criticised Web Summit for holding an “offensive” summit dinner at Lisbon’s National Pantheon, where a number of the country’s important national figures are buried.
The Founders dinner, which features company bosses and investors, was held last Friday.
However Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa, who opened the Web Summit earlier in the week, said the decision to host the dinner at the pantheon was “unworthy of the respect due” to the national monument.
Costa added that it was legal to hold the event, which meant it was the fault of the previous Portuguese government for allowing the “offensive use of this monument”. The dinner had been approved by the nation’s ministry of culture.
However laws will be amended to prevent the pantheon from being used for similar events in the future, Costa said.
The pantheon is a former church, the Church of Santa Engrácia, and was converted into the monument in 1966.
Portuguese national heroes buried at the site include the first elected leader, Manuel Arriaga, a number of former presidents, as well as writers and poets.
Following the backlash, Web Summit CEO Cosgrave “apologised for any offence caused” in hosting the dinner in a statement on Twitter.
“Dear Portugal, I apologise. I’m Irish. Culturally we have a very different approach to death. We celebrate it,” Cosgrave wrote.
“That does not make it the right approach when in Portugal. I love this country as a second home and would never seek to offend the great heroes of Portugal’s past.”
A Web Summit statement said that it was “trying to honour the history of Portugal and have our guests appreciate the storied past of this country”.
When the Web Summit was based in Dublin, the Founders dinner had previously been hosted in Christ Church Cathedral.
Written by Hayley Halpin and posted on TheJournal.ie