Editorial: Intel's €3.5bn upgrade a timely boost for country
As the country emerges blinking into a post-troika world it must be heartening, especially in these troubled political times, for the powers that be to hear Ireland praised for its "business-friendly climate, fabulous employees, skilled workers and stable investment environment".
Is that the country we know and love so well? Maybe not to the cynics, but such are the words of Renee James, the head of Intel, a multinational microchip maker which came to Leixlip, Co Kildare, 25 years ago and now employs 4,500 people. Ms James is not spouting platitudes, but putting her 'money where her mouth is' with a €3.5bn investment in the company's Irish campus, an ongoing upgrade, the details of which were revealed yesterday. It is the largest ever private investment in an Irish company and clearly a vote of confidence in the future here.
This upgrade has been ongoing for the last three years, but the company hasn't been 'shouting about it' as it seeks to reposition itself in the microchip market, which is shifting dramatically from the personal computer (PC) to handheld or 'wearable' devices. In that sense Leixlip is now a 'leading-edge plant' in the company's worldwide network.
The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation Richard Bruton, along with his predecessors, has every right to feel chuffed. "It was a major win 25 years ago when the company decided to locate operations here and it has made a massive contribution to the Irish economy since," he said yesterday.
That, of course, is true but it is also something that has worked both ways. Intel is undoubtedly a major beneficiary of Ireland's 12.5pc corporation tax and its 'profits per employee' are extraordinary and way above those earned in other economies, in Europe and elsewhere. Added to that the company wields extraordinary influence, for the good it must be said, when it comes to demands for clean water and a reliable electricity supply.
It is estimated that Intel has invested over €12bn in its Irish operations since coming here a quarter of a century ago. Its current upgrade is preparing it for the next wave of technology. But before we all get carried away it is worth noting that it is currently making an even bigger investment in Israel.
This has been a very profitable investment for both Intel and Ireland, and given the number of employees and the profits that the company makes, we must all hope that it is a relationship that will continue for many years to come.
REELING IN THE YEARS WITH MORE GUBU AND PHONE-CALL TAPING
It has been a tumultuous week in politics and public life, a week that brought those of us who are old enough to remember back to the frenzied and hysterical era of GUBU, which not only encompassed, in a general sense, a series of bizarre events but also issues of illicit taping of phone conversations, the sacking of senior figures like the Garda Commissioner and rampant confusion in the corridors of power.
More than 30 years later is it disconcerting to learn that the events surrounding the resignation of the Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan are now claim and counterclaim; that letters containing important matters of state did not arrive at the desk of the minister for over two weeks. Worse still, we now appear to be staring into an appalling vista of judicial confusion as a result of the taping of telephone conversations in certain garda stations.
All these matters are now the subject of various investigations. One wonders is it just a convenient way to play for time.
On the issue of taping conversations in garda stations somebody must have had responsibility for it, the system was upgraded in recent years. On whose orders? Surely the police should be able to identify who was in charge and then explain what was going on instead of getting bogged down in an inquiry.
Whatever happened to 'openness, transparency and accountability?' We didn't get it then and we're not getting it now.