Tuesday 21 May 2019

SF and Independents pose a threat to business, say leaders

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams TD. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams TD. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Colm Kelpie

THE rise of Sinn Fein and other left-leaning political groups poses a strong challenge for the financial services industry in Ireland, it has been suggested.

Sinn Fein pulled off a stellar performance in Dublin in last weekend's elections, with Dublin Chamber of Commerce calculating that just under 50pc of the city's councillors now come from left-leaning anti-austerity groups.

And separately, economist Jim Power of Friends First said a continued rise would "scare the living daylights" out of him.

"I even heard an Argentinian debt default being mentioned last night. That would seriously concern me," Mr Power said.

"For a small, open economy, so dependent on external investment ... if they look too closely at the economic policy platform as we understand it at the moment, they (foreign investors) would have to be nervous about it."

At the launch of Friends First's latest economic commentary, Mr Power said he hoped "sense and sanity" would prevail before the general election.

Earlier, Aebhric McGibney, policy and communications director with Dublin Chamber of Commerce, said just under 50pc of the councillors in Dublin now came from parties including Sinn Fein and People Before Profit.

"If you take that as in some way a reflection of the audience that you're trying to communicate to and in terms of the challenges that the industry faces, these are people that wouldn't necessarily be most likely to be business-friendly, at least to some of the sectors that we have in Ireland," he said.

"There's a very strong communications challenge to get across to people the importance and value of financial services, not just for Dublin but for the location here and some of the services they produce in other parts of the country."

However, investors don't seem too perturbed, with borrowing costs on the bond markets falling yesterday to 2.68pc.

Meanwhile, Mr Power said the roots of real recovery were evident and provided that the external environment continues its momentum, the Irish economy should continue to move in the right direction.

But he warned that risks continued to exist, including sovereign, personal and SME debt, which he described as dangerously high.

"The overall economy is still not getting sufficient credit to fuel a meaningful and sustainable economic recovery," he said. "This continues to be a major challenge and one that need to be tightly managed.

"Businesses, particularly those in the SME sector, need access to fresh credit to help them work through difficult times and to benefit from the upturn."

Mr Power forecast that the economy, as measured by GDP, would grow 2.1pc this year, strengthening to 3.8pc in 2015.

Exports would rise 3.5pc this year, and 4.5pc in 2015. Unemployment will dip to 11.4pc and fall further to 10pc next year, he predicted.

Irish Independent

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