Friday 24 November 2017

No 'cohesive' plan for capitalising on Brexit

Deirdre Somers: ‘Brexit is all upside in the short-term’ Picture: Bloomberg
Deirdre Somers: ‘Brexit is all upside in the short-term’ Picture: Bloomberg
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

The head of the Irish Stock Exchange has warned she is not aware of any "coordinated, cohesive" plan here to capitalise on the Brexit vote.

Deirdre Somers said Brexit provides an opportunity to redefine Ireland as a financial services location and to do something "completely different".

But she said she hasn't seen any strategy in that regard.

Dublin has been tipped as a possible contender in attracting financial services operations either already based in London, or thinking twice about setting up in the UK, in the wake of the Brexit vote.

"I believe that in financial services, rather uniquely, Brexit represents pretty much all upside in the short-term," Ms Somers said.

"Maybe there is a plan somewhere and I'm just not party to it, or I haven't seen it, but certainly I am unaware of a coordinated, cohesive approach to what is a career defining, disruptive event for financial services."

Ms Somers, who was speaking at a seminar organised by the British Irish Chamber of Commerce and law firm McCann FitzGerald, said the vote on June 23 provided a "once in a lifetime" opportunity for Ireland's financial services offering.

She said the strategy should be to focus on attracting financial services infrastructure to Dublin, which may not initially bring a lot of extra jobs, but in time will create an interconnected system and attract further investment.

"This is an opportunity for a step change, it is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Ireland to redefine its relevance and its position in the financial services arena," she said.

She used the example of Bats Europe, one of Europe's biggest stock exchanges, which is looking for a home outside of London as a result of Brexit.

Bats Europe accounts for about 24pc of daily trading in European shares.

Ms Somers said if Dublin secured Bats, it wouldn't initially mean a big influx of jobs, but it would lead to the possibility of further investment from other areas within financial services that would create an interconnected system.

"I don't see any strategy in that space. I have no doubt that the IDA is doing what the IDA does extraordinarily well, which is open doors in very large institutions," Ms Somers said.

"But I think if we don't grab this opportunity now, we'll be sitting here in five years' time, without having moved the dial."

Meanwhile, a former PSNI senior officer has warned Brexit could lead to some "civil unrest" in Northern Ireland, particularly in relation to the border.

Former assistant chief constable Peter Sheridan, who is now the head of Cooperation Ireland, said protest can become more dangerous if people feel their identity is being compromised.

Irish Independent

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