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Only 23 rich foreigners have obtained Irish visas under investment schemes


MICHAEL NOONAN: Mulling over a plan to let tax exiles buy more time in Ireland

MICHAEL NOONAN: Mulling over a plan to let tax exiles buy more time in Ireland

MICHAEL NOONAN: Mulling over a plan to let tax exiles buy more time in Ireland

ONLY 23 visas have been granted under the Government's visa-for-cash schemes – where wealthy foreigners are offered residency in return for investing in or starting up Irish companies – since they were launched more than a year-and-a-half ago.

The immigrant investor programme was launched by Justice Minister Alan Shatter in April last year, with the aim of attracting much-needed money into our cash-strapped economy.

So far, however, only nine people have obtained visas under the scheme.

The Government's start-up entrepreneur scheme, which was established to make it easier for international entrepreneurs to move to Ireland and set up a business here, is also struggling to attract investor interest – only 14 people have obtained visas under it since it was launched in April 2012.

Serial entrepreneur and chairman of Petrel Resources, John Teeling, said foreigners might be reluctant to apply for visas under the start-up entrepreneur scheme because they feel it could be too difficult to set up a business in Ireland.

"They either don't perceive the market opportunities in Ireland or Europe to be good enough, or they feel the restrictions of the scheme are too tight," said Mr Teeling.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice and Equality said that "no predictions were made on the level of interest" in the immigrant investor programme and start-up entrepreneur schemes when they were launched.

"This is new territory for Ireland, and it was not possible to predict the level of demand at that time," said the spokeswoman.

"Investment decisions are not made overnight, and all the more so when people are looking at making an investment in a country not well-known to them."

Finance Minister Michael Noonan will no doubt be hoping that any moves he makes to encourage Irish tax exiles to invest in Ireland will be more successful than the immigrant investor and start-up entrepreneur programmes, which target foreigners rather than tax exiles.

Mr Noonan last week described as "attractive" a proposal that Ireland's multi-millionaire tax exiles would get an extra two months a year in the State in exchange for an annual investment of €1.5m over 10 years.

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