Tuesday 20 February 2018

Taoiseach rules out prospect of General Election this year

Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images
Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images
Dearbhail McDonald

Dearbhail McDonald

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has ruled out the prospect of a General Election in Ireland this year.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Mr Kenny - who briefly met British Prime Minister Theresa May last night in the Swiss alpine town -  also said he was "confident and optimistic" that Ireland would be able to attract more foreign direct investment in the wake of Brexit.

Mr Kenny defended the current coalition, describing it as stable and said "not at all" when asked if Irish voters would go to the polls in 2017.

"People said 'you will not put a government together, you’ll never be able to get a budget, or be able to pass legislation'." Mr Kenny told CNBC.

"This is not so. We’re moving on, as I say. We want to continue to manage our finances, prudently in the people’s interest, and continue to grow employment, invest in infrastructure, provide good services for our people."

The Taoiseach is attending Davos with Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Martin Shanahan, chief executive of the IDA, which is meeting investors to reassure them that Ireland is an attractive location for foreign direct investment post Brexit. 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny with UK Prime Minister Theresa May Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Taoiseach Enda Kenny with UK Prime Minister Theresa May Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

"I have to say that I’m very confident and very optimistic that Ireland continues to be a very attractive location, both for investment from abroad, and for the possibilities for expansion of indigenous Irish industries," said Mr Kenny.

"Yes, of course, in terms of currency fluctuations there are challenges here, that’s an undoubted fact, but we’re looking at, you know, continuing to be competitive, looking at new markets, at new opportunities.

"So, I'm very optimistic about the future for Ireland, despite the uncertainties that there might be about some elements of the decision of Britain to leave the European Union, and that’s a matter, where having completed our plan in terms of negotiations diplomatically, we will negotiate very hard to retain our objectives which we have agreed in part with the UK Prime Minister."

Mr Kenny, in his sixth visit to Davos, told CNBC that banks will not wait for long to make decisions after Brexit.

Ms May's Brexit speech last Tuesday prompted many international bankers attending Davos to announce plans to leave London.

Banks that have indicated they will move staff out of the City of London include HSBC and UBS, with Dublin a potential location for a host of international financial institutions and insurers.

"Financial houses, banks and other businesses will not hang around for interminable delays in terms of doing trade deals," said Mr Kenny.

"They’ll make decisions, and Ireland’s a very attractive location at the moment. We have a lot of interest being expressed by  companies who want to see regulation, who want to see what the opportunities for investment, or for doing business in Ireland are, and we respond to that.

"Of course, it’s a competitive field, and there are other locations where people could decide to go to, we are in there with the very best".

Earlier at Davos, Ms May pledged that Britain would to be the world's strongest advocate of business, free markets and free trade.

Ms May addressed Davos days after a landmark speech in which she said that Britain would leave the European single market.

Mr Kenny is not taking part in any public debates or addresses at Davos, but has an intensive series of bilateral a with a host of multi nationals.

Today the Taoiseach met with Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Oficer of Facebook and participates in a closed session of the Informal Gathering of World Economic Leaders (IGWEL).

He also has meetings with AT&T's Karim Lesina, Omar Ishrak, chairman and CEO of Medtronic, Ginni Rometti, chairman, president and CEO of IBM and with Flemming Ornskov, CEO of Shire.

Tonight Mr Kenny will deliver a speech to the heads of up to 50 global corporations at a dinner hosted by the IDA.

In an address intended to reassure political and business leaders, Ms May said Britain had voted for a "bold, ambitious" course when it voted to leave the European Union.

Ms May denied that Brexit was a rejection of "our friends in Europe" insisting that it was "simply a vote to restore our parliamentary democracy" and to become more global and internationalist.

Ms May said talk of greater globalisation, one of the main themes of discussion at the annual gathering of the world's elite, made many people fearful. 

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