100 defining moments: Key moments in Business
January 1920: The US introduces alcohol prohibition. It lasted until 1933 and together with the loss of Commonwealth markets after Irish independence, it accelerated the decline of the Irish whiskey industry. At the turn of the century Ireland had 60pc of world whiskey sales. It dwindled to just 2pc by the 1980s.
1959: New Taoiseach Sean Lemass begins implementing the first Programme For Economic Expansion. It reversed previous economic policy by tearing down protectionist tariffs and provided incentives for foreign companies to invest in Ireland.
1962: The Irish Dairy Board tests out a new butter brand called Kerrygold in Northern England. Led by Sir Anthony O’Reilly, An Bord Bainne developed major global success and showed Ireland’s ability to develop a truly international consumer brand.
1972: Denis Brosnan becomes managing director of North Kerry Milk Products. Based in a caravan for an office he merges several co-ops to form what became Kerry Group. It became a template for the commercialisation of co-ops across Ireland and as far away as New Zealand. Today it has revenues of over €6bn.
1986: Dermot Desmond meets Charles Haughey in New York and tells him about his idea to create an international financial services centre in Dublin. Haughey backs the idea, including it in his 1987 Fianna Fail manifesto. Today the IFSC employs 38,000 people and pays around €1bn in Corporation Tax every year.
1989: Intel arrives in Ireland. It manufactured its first processing chip in Kildare in 1993 and now employs 5,500 people in Ireland. It opened the way for almost every major technology giant to invest here.
1990: Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait. The first Gulf War precipitated the collapse of Goodman International as it was owed $180m by the
Iraqi government for beef. Goodman’s meat processing group accounted for around 5pc of Irish GNP. Emergency legislation pushed through the Dail to save the group gave birth to the examinership process, which has been used very effectively ever since.
1995: A delegation of Irish civil servants and advisers travels to Brussels to convince the EC to allow Ireland to introduce a flat 12.5pc Corporation Tax rate for all company profits.
The process was finally agreed in 1998 and paved the way for billions in foreign multinational investment.
1999: Ireland joins the single currency and loses the power to set its own interest rates. Euro notes and coins were introduced in January 2002.
2003: The year Irish bank lending to property breached all previous guiding principles. This was the year the fuse was lit on the banking collapse which came in 2008.
2008: The State bank guarantee, aimed at saving the banking system, helped bring down the exchequer. Bank bailouts and exchequer borrowing mean today our national debt is €207bn, compared to €47bn in 2007.
December 2010: The Irish government seeks an €85bn bailout from the EU, IMF and ECB as part of a three-year programme. It was the biggest loss of economic sovereignty in our history.