Infrastructure, not tax, the ‘key issue for Brexit influx’


IDA Ireland’s head of international financial services Kieran Donoghue Photo: REUTERS / Hannah McKay

Colm Kelpie

International companies looking to Ireland post-Brexit are more interested in the Government’s long-term vision for how our cities and towns will evolve than the tax offering, a senior IDA official has said.

They’re asking about building heights, urban amenities and quality of design, because they want to both persuade workers to come and settle here, and to ensure those they recruit will want to stay, said Kieran Donoghue, the IDA’s head of international financial services.

He said firms are looking at locations around the country.

“They want a view of what those places are going to look and feel like, five, 10, 15 years from now,” Mr Donoghue said.

Dublin has long been tipped as a potential contender for post-Brexit spoils, not only by investors from London, but businesses that have chosen to bypass the UK because of its EU departure. Access to EU markets, the quality of our workforce and, of course, the 12.5pc corporate tax offering have been the cornerstone of the country’s sales pitch.

But Mr Donoghue said firms want also to know “how Ireland is likely to evolve from an infrastructure perspective”.

“Many of our critics would tend to reduce our proposition to tax. But increasingly it’s not,” he said.

“What clients are saying to us, their ability to hire people in Ireland, and to attract people from elsewhere to come and work in Ireland, is fundamental to their business. And that leads directly to the issue of housing.”

Mr Donoghue said companies that have made inquires about shifting some of their operations here as a result of Brexit have asked questions about both infrastructure and housing.

But he said they understand the infrastructure challenges the country faces, and the fiscal constraints.

“But their view of housing is more nuanced,” Mr Donoghue added. “They don’t necessarily want us just to build more housing to a conventional, say housing estate, model.

“They’re asking us for our views on the direction our cities and our city regions are going to take. They’re asking about heights of buildings. They’re asking about urban amenity, quality of design etc, because they’re planning on trying to attract and maintain a multinational, multicultural workforce.”

The Government has had a number of Brexit-related wins in financial services.

These include JP Morgan, Bank of America, Barclays, insurers Legal & General, XL Group and Beazley.

Dublin has, however, lost out to Luxembourg, Brussels and Frankfurt after big-name insurers AIG, Lloyd’s and Standard Chartered revealed their plans.

Addressing last week’s All-Island Civic Forum on Brexit, Mr Donoghue said the agency is redoubling its efforts to win foreign investment in a bid to compensate for any job losses that may arise here as a consequence of Brexit.

He said global companies are “not abandoning Britain”, but they are actively looking to move the “EU facing piece of their UK-based business”.

“This presents an opportunity for Ireland,” he said.

He said the IDA has engaged with “scores of multinationals”, both at home and abroad, and that companies are looking at locations across the country.

It comes amid weekend reports Amazon had warned the Government that while it was considering doubling or trebling its workforce in Ireland over the coming years, it had concerns around planning permission, energy supply timelines and graduate skills.

In what could also turn out to be a blow for the Government, ‘The Sunday Times’ reported that a survey of staff at the European Medicines Agency (EMA) found that 45pc of them would be unlikely to want to relocate to Ireland. The Government has made a bid for both the EMA and the European Banking Authority (EBA).

Irish Independent

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