Business Irish

Sunday 26 March 2017

IDA gave €61m grants to firms who have since left the country

Louise McBride

Louise McBride

ABOUT €1 out of every €15 in grants paid by the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) to foreign-owned companies over the last 10 years has gone to businesses that have since pulled out of Ireland.

Foreign companies have pocketed €940m in IDA grants over the last 10 years and about €61m -- almost as much as Fianna Fail's failed e-voting machines cost the State -- of those grants were paid to companies who have since stopped trading in Ireland, according to the IDA.

About €18m -- a third of the grants paid to the foreign companies who have since left Ireland -- has not been repaid to the IDA. However, most of the companies who received this €18m would not have had an onus to repay those grants because they had operated in Ireland for at least five years (the amount of time companies must usually stay in Ireland to meet the conditions of an IDA grant), according to a spokesman.

"These companies, when trading in Ireland, contributed significantly to the Irish economy and have repaid the Exchequer many times over for the grants they received during their time in Ireland," said a spokesman for the IDA. "IDA companies export more than €110bn in goods and services each year and account for more than 65 per cent of the total corporation tax paid in Ireland."

About €35m of the €61m in grants has already been repaid -- and a further €8m is being pursued.

Among the foreign-owned companies that received IDA grants are British telecom firm TalkTalk and credit card giant MBNA. TalkTalk closed its call centre in Waterford last month with the loss of more than 570 jobs.

Last August, Bank of America, which owns MBNA, announced plans to pull out of the Irish and British credit card market. The announcement has put 700 jobs in MBNA in Leitrim at risk.

Both MBNA and TalkTalk said last week that they had met the conditions of their IDA grants and were under no obligation to repay those grants.

"TalkTalk has previously received grants from the IDA and they were used as directed -- for the training and development of employees in Waterford," said a spokeswoman for TalkTalk.

"As they were allocated correctly and appropriately, and the training has taken place, there is no suggestion that any grants should be repaid."

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