Non-rioting Irish a lure for US investors

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and American ambassador Dan Rooney at the "Growing Jobs" forum to discuss US-Ireland priorities and bilateral opportunities, at Farmleigh. Photograph: Eric Luke

UNA McCAFFREY; Source The Irish Times - Friday, October 7, 2011

“NOBODY’S RIOTING in the streets, yet,” was how one US business leader characterised Ireland’s appeal over other potential investment locations yesterday.

George Moore, founder of data compilation group Targusinfo and owner of Belleek Pottery in Co Fermanagh, was in Dublin to talk “jobs and opportunities” with fellow “business leaders” at a US embassy conference. Joking aside, he reckons Ireland’s reputation has been “enhanced” of late, helped by the Government’s handling of the bailout. He acknowledged the small matter of the bailout representing an “overhang” for generations to come, but said it would help if the powers-that-be could ensure that “everybody takes a haircut”.

Positivity and recovery were the general themes at the event, held in Farmleigh in Dublin’s Phoenix Park. Taoiseach Enda Kenny passed through to sprinkle his own magic dust of happy confidence as the great and the good gathered in advance of today’s Global Economic Forum.

“We have nothing to be afraid of,” he assured the US and Irish business people. He said the Government would bring the deficit down to the bailout target of 8.6 per cent of GDP next year “irrespective of what it takes to do that”. Mr Kenny was also keen to emphasise the State’s 12.5 per cent corporation tax rate was “neither moving up nor down”.

This will have brought comfort to Dundalk native Pearse Lyons, whose animal health company Alltech spans the globe.

Mr Lyons spoke particularly favourably of Estonia, where a zero per cent rate of corporation tax applies where profits are reinvested in the country.

Paul Quinn, a partner in the Washington DC office of law firm Nossaman, said the ability to access European markets from the Republic should get more emphasis in the US. A “tourism mecca” should also be developed, he said, although with four Irish parents, he may be a touch biased.