Ireland is missing a “golden opportunity” to ramp up investment in infrastructure that could help make it “Brexit-proof”, according to the chief executive of business and employer association Ibec.
Danny McCoy was speaking to the Irish Examiner following his keynote address at the Trinity Global Business Forum, which focused on current disruptive forces in the business environment nationally and internationally.
Mr McCoy said it was still not fully appreciated how much the economy was strengthening at present and that a ramping up of infrastructure could take place but still stay within the fiscal rules.
He said disposable income was up 6% compared to last year, leading to a surge in private wealth.
“However the Government cannot provide the infrastructure to match that private wealth,” he said. “In other words, you could buy a new car but have roads that are not fit for purpose.”
The recent population increase was not dealt with adequately, he said.
“Our emergency department crisis is one of volume,” said Mr McCoy. “It is clogged up. We now have roads full of cyclists but barely the infrastructure to match.
“By building schools and hospitals and roads, you take out intolerance and frustration. We have to get ahead of this now. We keep missing the windows of opportunity that present themselves every generational cycle.”
Mr McCoy pointed to the League of Ireland football structure as an analogy for what he perceived as Ireland missing a golden opportunity.
“The quality of football in the league is at an all-time high,” said Mr McCoy. “The best players ply their trade in Ireland as the historical opportunities to play in England’s Premier League are no longer there due to global movement.
“Yet these quality footballers in Ireland are playing in infrastructure that is not up to standard. It is a metaphor for Brexit. People are willing to migrate here from Britain because of Theresa May’s Brexit positioning. We want the best people here but we don’t have that infrastructure in place.”
Speakers at the forum also included global president of Mars food, drinks, and multisales, Fiona Dawson, who spoke about the dearth of women middle-managers, saying evidence showed corporations were stronger with more women in such roles.
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