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Taoiseach's chance meeting with rugby great wins 50 new jobs

A CHANCE encounter between rugby legend Mick Galwey and Taoiseach Enda Kenny resulted in a US company locating in Ireland and creating 50 jobs.

The head of alarm system giant Xtralis told how he tore up his plans to relocate to another European country after hearing the Taoiseach speak at an event in Boston.

Mr Kenny rolled out his mantra about making Ireland "the best small country in the world to do business".

Samir Samhouri, chairman and chief executive of the firm, said he was impressed with the Taoiseach when he met him in February.

"He spoke so passionately about Ireland that it was hard to ignore that speech."

But the Boston speech only came about after the Taoiseach bumped into former Irish international rugby player Mr Galwey at the launch of a charity cycle.

The former Munster captain is a brand ambassador with Carlow-based security firm Netwatch. He met the Taoiseach at the launch of the Cycle4Haiti charity cycle last January in Government Buildings.

Mr Galwey said he knew Mr Kenny was heading to Boston a few weeks later, where the company was opening its new sales office.

"We were just chatting and I said to him: 'Any chance you'd give us a plug when you're over there?'" he said.

Research

Mr Kenny ultimately spoke at the US reception, which was hosted by Netwatch, in front of 80 Boston business leaders, including Mr Samhouri.

The following day he told his staff to start looking at Ireland as a base.

Xtralis provides detection systems for fire, gas and security, and employs 520 people worldwide while operating in 100 countries.

Mr Samhouri said he was just weeks away from locating his international operating headquarters elsewhere.

After the Taoiseach's speech, he said, his research showed Ireland had the workforce, access, infrastructure, language and tax structure.

"We met February 16, we started the process February 17 and by July it was done. Remember it took me four years to get to that point with another country. I don't think there is any other country that would make it simpler for us to move over," he added.

The company will eventually employ 50 people in Dublin, but will initially start out with 10.

Irish Independent