US firms see us at heart of Europe

I BELIEVE the recent call by the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland for a ‘yes’ vote in the EU Reform Treaty referendum is the most significant development to date in the context of this campaign.

The call for a ‘yes’ vote was made by Paul Rellis, the chamber president who is also managing director of Microsoft Ireland.

American companies employ more than 100,000 Irish people directly and we should not forget that tens of thousands of Irish workers are indirectly dependent on US multinationals continuing to operate in our country. Those based in Ireland include giants such as Oracle, Hewlett Packard, Dell, Intel, IBM, to name but a few. US companies here generate a massive 40% of all our corporation tax receipts.

These companies invest in Ireland not just because of our skilled workforce or that we speak English, but because we are seen as a bridge to invest in Europe — we are seen to be at the heart of Europe because of our strong pro-European past. The American Chamber of Commerce said Ireland should stay at the heart of Europe, and the chamber supports the reform of the EU institutions. If we say ‘no’ to Europe, it will send out a very negative message to US companies here, and this at a time of slipping performance in the Irish economy and increasing US investment in Asia. Indeed, the American Chamber of Commerce has stated that a ‘no’ vote will affect foreign investment in Ireland in the future. Combined with a turbulent global economic situation, the very last signal we should send out is that we are turning our backs on Europe.

The consequences, together with increasingly attractive markets in Asia and Latin America, could be calamitous for our economy. The Celtic Tiger will not just suffer a setback, it would disappear altogether with catastrophic results in terms of growth and mass unemployment.

Lastly, we should not take advice from the bizarre coalition of ‘no’ voices. Not only are the extreme-left and extreme-right devoted to anachronistic, pathetic and failed ideologies like Marxism and nationalism, but their economic ideas would be disastrous for Ireland if ever implemented.

The far right would favour a reactionary protectionist policy which would eliminate foreign investment here, and the extreme-left’s programme would produce an overnight flight of capital from the country (both Irish and especially foreign capital), leading to universal ruination.

So, in our own national interest, vote ‘yes’ or else face the consequences of marginalisation at best or economic suicide at worst.

Dr Derek O’Flynn




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