Wednesday 22 November 2017

'Chancers and opportunists' behind Brexit vote - AIB chair

AIB chairman Richard Pym Photo: Colm Mahady / Fennells
AIB chairman Richard Pym Photo: Colm Mahady / Fennells

Colm Kelpie and Cormac McQuinn

The chairman of state-owned AIB has accused the Leave campaign in Britain of peddling a "massive lie".

Richard Pym said the Brexit side had been led by a group of "chancers and opportunists".

Mr Pym told the Association of European Journalists conference in Kilkenny that the Leave campaign promised to scrap the EU's freedom of movement principle, that there would be no adverse effects from pulling out of the EU, that the NHS would get extra money and that there would be an end to EU laws and regulations.

"Fantastic promises, and tempting to those who know little about economics or politics," Mr Pym said.

"We were also told that Ukraine and Turkey were about to join the EU and the UK was their work destination of choice," he added. "But it is all untrue. A massive lie.

"But it was promised to the population by some of the best communicators in British politics - (Nigel) Farage, (Michael) Gove, (Boris) Johnson et al."

AIB, which also owns First Trust Bank in Northern Ireland, generates about 13.2pc of its total income from the UK, according to an investor update from the NTMA.

Mr Pym also said that Ireland had the potential to benefit from Britain's "folly".

"Ireland is open for business, anchored in the European Union, and a very attractive location for inward investment," he said.

His comments came as Taoiseach Enda Kenny made a pitch to foreign executives to use Ireland as a base to grow their companies to a "global scale" in light of Brexit.

Mr Kenny took the opportunity at the announcement of 215 new jobs by nine American and European firms to make the case for them to grow their operations here in the coming years.

The companies announcing jobs included internet start-up Smartfrog, which is bringing 35 jobs to Dublin, and Endura Technologies, which is adding 40 engineers to its Irish team.

Mr Kenny said the Government recognised that the competition for new investment would be "intense" in the wake of the Brexit vote.

But he said Ireland was committed to "supporting a diverse range and size of companies".

"We have plenty of experience of companies just like yours, who decided to come here and decided to invest here, that now see themselves very much on a global scale," he said.

Irish Independent

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