500 business leaders give standing ovation to 11-year-old Limerick boy

Padraig O'Callaghan from Knockainey at the All-Ireland Business Summit in Croke Park.

AN 11-year old County Limerick boy with Down Syndrome earned a standing ovation from 500 business leaders in Croke Park after urging them to “look beyond the CV” and embrace inclusivity.

Padraig O’Callaghan from Knockainey made a stirring speech at the All-Ireland Business Summit today, calling on the Irish Business Community to join his “inclusion revolution”.

The schoolboy captured the hearts of the nation by spreading tips and advice on how to stay positive through the pandemic.

He began working on his videos called “Paudcasts” with his dad Brian, who said it was a way to help him with his communication skills and confidence. They were published every Monday during the pandemic and gained traction with people all over the world who tuned in for his tips and nuggets of positivity.

Urging business leaders to embrace diversity and inclusion at the All-Ireland Business Summit he said: “When I was born, people would come to my Mam and Dad and sympathise. Just pause and think about that for a second. People would express sorrow for me being born into this world.

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“It was on the back of this that my Mam and Dad encouraged me to be the best I could be, as any parent should, and it is how my Paudcast was born.”

“Now, I should say that I didn’t set out to gain recognition, or win awards. But when the opportunities presented themselves to promote inclusion, diversity and equality, I didn’t shy away from them. I have fronted campaigns for Down Syndrome Ireland, Special Olympics Ireland, Darkness Into Light and many more.”

“I have been invited to interview the Taoiseach and the Tanaiste at Government Buildings, and even more importantly, I interviewed Santa Claus at the North Pole – that was a world exclusive!

“Why am I saying all this, am I boasting? No, not at all, please don’t think I am. I am merely pointing out the fact that all these things happened, not because I have Down Syndrome but because I am Padraig, and I believe disability should not mean inability.”

“Let’s face it, if I was to send my CV into your company for a job, it would probably end up in the bin. Today I ask you to look beyond the CV. Maybe, just maybe, the applicant has something different to offer. It is only with your help, your support, your voice and your actions that we can all join the inclusion revolution.”

Highlighting the need for a more inclusive business community All-Ireland Business Foundation chief executive Elaine Carroll said: “Padraig’s story is a powerful reminder that every person is capable of great things if they are supported and empowered by those around them. As employers, we are in a unique position to enable people of all backgrounds to achieve their goals – not only for themselves but also for our companies.

“We need to look beyond the CV to find the fresh ideas and perspectives that the human behind it might offer. The All-Ireland Business Foundation is proud to be part of Padraig’s “inclusion revolution” and we urge the Irish business community to get on board.”

The All-Ireland Business Summit is the flagship gathering of the All-Ireland Business Foundation and made its long-anticipated return today after two years on pause.