Monday 11 December 2017

IDA rejects Foster claim of 'poaching'

Concern: Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
Concern: Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

There is no justification for claims by Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster that the Republic is trying to "poach investment" and undermine the North's economy in the wake of Brexit, the head of the IDA has insisted.

In his first public comments on the issue since Ms Foster's remarks last month, Martin Shanahan told the Irish Independent that he had no idea what Ms Foster was talking about.

"I don't believe there's any justification," the IDA boss said.

"In truth, I don't know to what the First Minister is referring."

Ms Foster told the DUP party conference last month that Irish Government representatives are sent out around the world to "talk down" the North's economy, and "to attempt to poach our investors".

She claimed a hard border existed in the mind of the Irish Government.

Foreign Affairs minister Charlie Flanagan expressed surprise at the comments, which he deemed unhelpful.

Mr Shanahan also dismissed the claim.

"Obviously the UK is a competitor, Northern Ireland is a competitor, but as a source of foreign direct investment (FDI) it is not something that the IDA is focused on," Mr Shanahan said. "We are focused on Europe, we are focused on Asia, we are focused on the US."

The DUP, along with the UUP, boycotted the Government's all-island civic dialogue on Brexit earlier this month, which Mr Flanagan branded a "missed opportunity".

The Government has been treading carefully in its efforts to lure jobs and investment from the UK following its June Brexit vote.

France, Germany, the Netherlands and Ireland are the main countries hoping to provide new homes for thousands of UK financial workers who might be moved if their employers shift operations out of London in advance of the UK leaving the European Union.

Citigroup has denied a report that it is planning to move up to 900 jobs from London to Dublin as part of its Brexit contingency plans.

Meanwhile, Mr Shanahan also said he didn't believe the Government's stance on Apple would hinder or undermine its relationship with the European Commission in the continuing Brexit negotiations.

The Government last week launched an appeal against the EU ruling that Apple received an unfair tax deal worth €13bn, and must pay it back.

"We have an issue with the European Commission decision and we're appealing it, but we're not the only country appealing a decision of the European Commission," Mr Shanahan said.

Irish Independent

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