David Puttnam steps down from role as Irish digital champion

15 May 2017

Ireland’s outgoing digital champion, David Puttnam. Image: Entertainment Press/Shutterstock

After four years as Ireland’s digital champion, David Puttnam has revealed he is to step down from the role.

While best known as the famous Hollywood producer behind such films as the Academy Award-winning Chariots of Fire, David Puttnam has spent the last four years as Ireland’s first national digital champion.

Appointed in 2012, Puttnam contributed to the development and implementation of the Government’s National Digital Strategy, published in 2013, where he used his role to raise the profile of national digital objectives.

Now however, the 76-year-old has decided to call time on his role (served on a pro-bono basis), making the announcement at an event at his home in Skibbereen.

“It has been both a challenge and a privilege to serve as the nation’s digital champion,” Puttnam said.

He added that he hoped he had “contributed towards cementing a determination in Ireland to be seen as the first amongst equals” in Europe.

One of the many events that he promoted was the Excited Digital Learning Festival, which was first held in 2014, where he called on the Government to not allow digital education to fall behind other nations such as Vietnam and Singapore.

Puttnam was also influential in the development of the School Digital Champion programme, now in its first year of national roll-out.

The purpose of the programme is to elevate digital skills and promote the productive use of digital and data sources.

This includes helping students to develop their creativity, critical-thinking and communications skills, allowing them to share knowledge and create valuable content to make a real difference to their school and wider community.

Future of the role

Acknowledging Puttnam’s contribution to the promotion of digital engagement in Ireland, the Minister for Communications Denis Naughten, TD, said: “As a digital ambassador, David’s vision for a more connected, inclusive and creative Ireland has been empowering.

“We share a vision of a connected economy and society where every citizen, company and community can realise the full potential of the digital world. As we drive forward with this ambition, we will continue to build on the goodwill, alliances and collaborations forged by David at national and EU level”.

The Department of Communications said that it will now begin considering who would be best suited to take over the role.

Ireland’s outgoing digital champion, David Puttnam. Image: Entertainment Press/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic