Friday 19 January 2018

Bruton backs IDA chief over call for a Yes vote in same-sex marriage referendum

IDA chief Martin Shanahan and Jobs Minister Richard Bruton
IDA chief Martin Shanahan and Jobs Minister Richard Bruton
Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan

Jobs minister Richard Bruton has backed the head of the IDA for intervening in the marriage equality referendum, calling it "appropriate".

Last May, before the referendum, IDA chief executive Martin Shanahan said he wanted a Yes vote, saying it would make Ireland much more attractive to potential foreign investors.

An IDA executive then sent an email to all agency staff titled "Martin Shanahan: a Yes vote is good for business".

Mr Shanahan's comments led to criticism that a State agency should not take sides in a referendum or election, but yesterday Mr Bruton said he supported Mr Shanahan.

When asked if a State agency should advocate voting in a particular direction, Mr Bruton said the IDA "has rightfully seen as its duty to comment on the business environment and Martin's comments on the talent and diversity we need to create, and the context in which the referendum would supplement that, was absolutely appropriate and were also views I happen to agree with.

"That decision does make Ireland very attractive to bring talent and I'm absolutely happy with that situation."

Mr Shanahan added that the IDA "will comment on policies which impact on foreign direct investment" but said the agency would not be taking sides in future elections".

He said: "We are not political in the sense of being party political in any shape or form, nor will we be commenting in relation to the election.

"We will be doing what we have done for many years and work with government whoever they are to achieve the best results from a foreign direct investment perspective."

It was later reported that the IDA chief got hate mail after he called for a Yes vote in the same-sex marriage referendum, which was passed.

Irish Independent

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