Cathal Friel, Director of Merrion Corporate Finance, has been elected Chairman of the Irish Software Association. He replaces Paul O'Dea (CEO, International Ventures), who has completed his term of office.
Following his election Mr Friel said that the technology downturn was over the worst and the economic outlook is better than many 'negative soothsayers' believe.
"The current economic outlook is in better shape than during the last Gulf War. In 1990 the USA, Ireland and the UK had interest rates in the teens, inflation in the 8 to 9% territory and unemployment in the UK and USA was 12% to 13% with Ireland going as high as 19%."
He said that the recession that occurred in the early 90s was consumer-led. "This time, the consumer is in good shape. While the current slowdown has been business led, eventually enterprises will have to start spending again and already there are signs of that happening."
Predicting the start of a technology recovery Mr Friel said: "The average life of an IT investment is four years and if one thinks that most major IT investment were made three to four years ago, one can clearly now see why there should be a real need for industry to start spending on IT projects from late this year and particularly next year."
He added that while Ireland has attracted €75bn in direct foreign investment over the last eight years, "we should not become dependent on multinationals to develop wealth, jobs and prosperity, which is why growing an indigenous Irish software sector is so important for this country going forward," he said.
Mr Friel heads up Merrion's IT and Media team and manages trade sales, mergers, acquisitions and fund raisings. Prior to this he worked in the software industry in the US, Australia and Ireland and was formerly Deputy CEO of Irish software firm, Allfinanz.
He holds an MBA from the University of Ulster where he formerly lectured in International Marketing.