Business Irish

Saturday 25 January 2020

Irish diaspora loan vehicle hails 300pc jump in applicant fund size from US

US national Carla Foran secured residency in Ireland through the Immigrant Investor Programme. Photo: Gerry Mooney
US national Carla Foran secured residency in Ireland through the Immigrant Investor Programme. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Sean Pollock

The monetary value of applications from the US to the Irish Diaspora Loan Fund (IDLF), a vehicle which allows foreign investors to invest in Ireland in return for long-term residency status, has increased by 300pc over the past year.

The increase in the size of the fund, which serves the Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP), was reported during a Sunday Independent interview with Joanna Murphy, director of the IDLF and chief executive of the Taxback Group.

Murphy said the fund had received around 22 applications over 2019, up from roughly two or three a year, with two already being approved.

The IIP, which was introduced in 2012, gives successful applicants permission to reside in Ireland for a fixed period. An investment of €1m in projects must be made for a minimum of three years. Since its introduction, more than 1,000 applications, mostly from China, have been successful, with an approved value of over €700m.

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Murphy was surprised by the increase in the number of applications to the IDLF from the US.

She suggested the make-up of those applying to join the scheme from the US infers there could be a link to the country's political climate.

"It's kind of a fascination for us," she said. "As much as the IDLF is about reaching out to diaspora or individuals who want to invest in Ireland, we didn't think about the fact that Democratic [supporting], professional, highly educated, female investors from the US would make this choice and vote with their feet."

Carla Foran, a former lawyer from the US who utilised the IIP to obtain residency in Ireland, said fear of the political climate back home drove her decision to move here.

"I think as that realisation that we are not coming back from this [political climate in the US], that the next election can't just make everything better, that the system is more dysfunctional and it ripples through every layer of life [sinks in], that you will see more Americans [using the IIP]," she said.

Fifty-six-year-old Foran, who grew up in Dryden, New York, said she hoped to open a Pilates fitness studio in Dublin soon.

The IDLF provides low-cost, asset-secured finance to the Irish hotel sector. Loans must be used to improve hotels and grow employment.

Sunday Independent

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