| 16.6°C Dublin

Foreign techies don't want to live in rural Ireland

Close

We once thought the internet would create a brave new world where we could live and work near the Cliffs of Moher

We once thought the internet would create a brave new world where we could live and work near the Cliffs of Moher

We once thought the internet would create a brave new world where we could live and work near the Cliffs of Moher

We once thought the internet would create a brave new world where we could live and work near the Cliffs of Moher or Malin Head.

It hasn't worked out that way. Techies have clustered together to code, gossip, find jobs and mate in some of the planet's more pleasant cities - reversing the flight to the suburbs and beyond which had been a feature of life in the 1980s and 1990s. Old-style manufacturing depends on transport links, energy, raw materials and labour. Pure water and cheap land lured Intel to Leixlip in 1989.

Today, technology firms only need skilled labour and broadband. They cluster within favoured cities where employees like to live.

Hundreds of technology companies have followed the lead of Google and Facebook to build their headquarters in the capital's Docklands area where there is excellent fibre optics, good public transport and well constructed apartments.

Many Irish techies would probably love Google, Facebook and their camp followers to move further afield. Irish techies could then stay in their communities or move home, but thanks to our outdated education system, tech companies have to attract and retain foreign workers with skills such as coding and languages.

Most foreign techies simply don't want fine views in a draughty house miles from a good broadband connection.

The decision by the majority of the IDA clients to move to Dublin or Cork last year provoked predictable howls of rage yesterday from the likes of Fianna Fail enterprise spokesman Dara Calleary. This is the same TD who has steadfastly resisted the construction of pylons in his Mayo constituency when secure energy supply is a non-negotiable for most multinationals.

Life outside Dublin is often better than life in the capital. There's community, space, good schools and fresh air. But people living there must be realistic and accept this is not to everyone's taste. Decentralisation was one of the great failed policies of the last Fianna Fail government. If a Government cannot force its own employees to move, how can we expect the IDA to force foreign companies to shift workers from India or California? We should be glad they are here at all.

Irish Independent