by Eamon Quinn
Neither fears of a hard Brexit border on the island nor US president Donald Trump’s corporate tax plans have slowed the number of projects and investment prospects flowing into Ireland and the outlook was “overwhelmingly positive”, IDA chief executive Martin Shanahan has said.
Speaking alongside Tánaiste and Enterprise Minister Frances Fitzgerald at the agency’s half-year report, Mr Shanahan also said the IDA was satisfied regions outside Dublin were getting a fair share of the financial services jobs and projects that would be lured to Ireland as UK-based financial services companies are forced to relocate to keep a base in the EU.
Asked whether Dublin would benefit disproportionately from the number of financial firms setting up in Ireland because of Brexit, Mr Shanahan said experience showed banks set up bases in time outside the capital.
Amid Brexit and the uncertainty caused by President Trump’s tax-cutting plans, a slowdown of investment flows detected in January, February and March has since been made up, he said.
Mr Shanahan said the IDA would likely set the targets for the number of financial services jobs it hopes to lure from the UK from the Brexit fallout in the autumn.
A number of UK-based financial services firms may be unwilling to publicly announce plans for the time being, he said. Brexit raised both opportunities and challenges because multinationals already based here and who rely on the UK market could be affected, he said.
There were now almost 200,000 jobs provided by foreign-owned companies across the State.
The number of IDA-linked jobs in Dublin and the Mid East has increased 6% to over 95,050; South West jobs have risen 5% to over 36,060; while there has been a 4% rise to 14,400 in IDA-related jobs in the South East.
The Mid West jobs count has climbed 10% to 17,140; the West has recorded an 8% increase to 22,070; the Border jobs count has risen 5% to almost 10,870; but Midlands jobs have risen by only 1% to 4,280.
“The overall sentiment toward Ireland is overwhelmingly positive,” Mr Shanahan said.
“Most companies are planning on the basis that Brexit may be at the harder end of the spectrum,” he said, but the prospects of a hard border “doesn’t come up in discussion” because for many financial services the border is not a big impediment.
“Obviously, it is a huge issue for other perspectives across the island of Ireland” but firms have taken comfort from Irish and UK government pledges to make a frictionless border, he said.
Investment by technology and services firms was “as strong as it has ever been”, he said.
This article first appeared in the Irish Examiner