Tuesday 17 July 2018

IDA chairman warns housing crisis has now gone national for employers

IDA chairman Frank Ryan
IDA chairman Frank Ryan
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

The cost and availability of housing are key challenges for businesses operating in Ireland, according to IDA chairman Frank Ryan.

Ryan, who first joined the IDA in 1978, says companies are concerned about their staff and where their staff are going to live, and how well they'll live.

"We are in competition with many other countries, we have to remain cost competitive," he said.

Housing is no longer just a Dublin issue, he says.

"Four years ago the IDA set targets for regional development, that we would increase investments by 30pc-40pc in each region outside of Dublin, and we are making excellent progress on that. However, when you talk about housing, people talk about Dublin - it's not just Dublin, its other cities and urban areas in the country.

"It takes time to build houses, we would all love if that wasn't the situation and if the homeless could be housed much quicker than realistically they may be able to.

"We all want to see that get better, but if you have had a number of years, as we had in Ireland, where no houses were built then you are building up a major challenge for the future - and that challenge has arrived."

Ryan knows better than anyone the challenges of selling Ireland.

At the IDA he oversaw massive inflows of foreign direct investment (FDI) that helped transform the country. As CEO of Enterprise Ireland, from 2003 and 2013, the sales and jobs generated by indigenous exporters hit record levels, even through the economic crisis.

In an interview with the Irish Independent today, he argues strongly that supporting inward investment hasn't been at the cost of developing domestic industry.

Other countries and jurisdictions would "give their right arm" for the level of FDI Ireland gets in particular from the US, he says.

"We don't see that as a weakness, we see that as a positive and we want to hold onto that positive."

Supporting entrepreneurs at home requires a different skillset, he says.

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