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Wednesday 24 April 2019

US giant to spend thousands backing 'Yes' camp

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

A multi-national technology giant will spend hundreds of thousands of euro campaigning for a 'Yes' vote in the Lisbon Treaty referendum.

The Irish boss of Intel -- one of the country's largest employers -- said he wanted to send a clear message that a 'Yes' vote matters to the future prosperity and growth of Ireland.

Despite planning to spend a six-figure sum on campaigning for a 'Yes' vote, the company claims it is not getting involved in the political argument, but simply putting the business case.

Intel Ireland general manager Jim O'Hara said there was a strong link between Ireland's EU membership and the level of inward foreign direct investment.


"Since Ireland voted to support the single European market, international investment has grown immensely. Ireland has become an important destination for inward investment into Europe," he said.

"This has happened for many reasons -- an English-speaking, well-educated workforce, low corporate tax and pro-business government policies.

"Most importantly, it has happened because of Ireland's connectedness to Europe, along with free access to vast EU markets," he said.

Admitting it was an unusual move for a company of this type to back a campaign, Mr O'Hara said Intel would be spending "a few hundred thousand euros" on its publicity campaign for Lisbon. He said he had informed the State ethics watchdog, the Standards in Public Office Commission, of its intentions and there was "absolutely no issue".

Although Mr O'Hara did not object to any questions being put to him about the treaty's contents and his company's activities, Intel's PR person attempted to block questions from the media.

"Jim is here today just to speak on the business perspective of the Lisbon referendum. We don't want to get into the political side of the debate, nor do we want to broaden that debate," the spokesman said.

Intel does produce computer chips, which have a military application. 'No' campaigners say the passing of the Lisbon Treaty means a drive towards the militarisation of Europe and greater military spending.

Mr O'Hara said he had no view on the militarisation arguments put forward by the 'No' campaign.

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