Contribution to the Debate on the European Stability Mechanism Bill 2012

June 8th, 2012 - Pat Breen

Deputy Pat Breen: I am delighted to have an opportunity to speak this afternoon on the European Stability Mechanism Bill 2012. Last night, I spoke on the European Communities (Amendment) Bill. I acknowledge the turnout in my constituency for the successful referendum on the stability treaty. The turnout was the sixth highest in the country.
This morning, I attended an investment conference in Croke Park with a number of other Deputies. It was organised by the US embassy. I listened to two very prominent speakers, namely, the Taoiseach and Mr. Bill Johnson, president of the H. J. Heinz Company, one of the top ten companies in the world. One began to wonder about the whereabouts of all the “No” voters who were so prominent during the referendum campaign. The empty benches across from me show the real interest they have in the future of the country.
At the conference this morning, the Taoiseach said a “Yes” vote created stability and certainty for foreign companies that want to invest in Ireland. Mr. Bill Johnson said Ireland continues to be a very attractive place in which to do business. The vote last week was an endorsement by the Irish people of the important role that foreign direct investment plays in job creation. The people wanted to ensure no damage would be inflicted on Ireland’s international credibility now that international confidence is at an all-time high. I chair the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade and note that anywhere I travel, particularly the United States, people approach me and credit Ireland for what it has done in the past 12 months. Much of this is because of the work of the Government, and this is extremely important, particularly for foreign direct investment. Last week’s vote gave a clear indication of that confidence. People do not want it to diminish. If we had voted “No” last week, it would have damaged Ireland’s credibility abroad and foreign direct investment would decrease.
There are more than 600 US companies operating in Ireland and they have invested more than €190 billion and employ more than 100,000 people here. Last year, the IDA and Enterprise Ireland created more than 13,000 jobs through foreign direct investment. Approximately 60 companies came here. Recent announcements by PayPal, Microsoft, Apple, Coca-Cola and Facebook, to name but a few multinationals, signal the importance of Ireland as a base for future development and as a hub for Europe. Ireland has nine of the top ten pharmaceutical companies which, in itself, speaks volumes. More than 50% of the world’s financial services companies are based here. The top ten born-on-the-Internet companies are here also. They are here because Ireland is a favourable place in which to invest and because we have a favourable corporation tax rate. This morning, at the conference, the Taoiseach stated the corporation tax rate will remain the same. This is extremely important to ensure the continuation of foreign direct investment.
I welcome the comments made yesterday by Mr. Mario Draghi, chairman of the European Central Bank. He stated that if Ireland continues with its efforts, the return to the markets will not be a very distant prospect, and could be much sooner than expected.
This expresses confidence in what we have been doing in the past 12 months. The Government is certainly working hard to achieve this. However, external factors, such as the ongoing problems in eurozone countries such as Spain and Greece, could have an influence on our objective of returning to the markets.
Having access to the ESM will assist Ireland in returning to the markets. It would boost confidence among the international financial markets. I am sorry I do not have more time because I could speak all day on this subject. I am delighted to have had an opportunity to speak on the Bill. It is a safety net to provide an insurance policy for the future if we need funding.