Having recently returned to Northern Ireland, after 40 years working in Dublin, I have to express my amazement that our First Minister is so openly anti-European.
I can understand the traditional intransigence of her party, given its background but I had hoped that with Arlene Foster it might be a case of third time lucky, leading to a broader and more international approach to business.
I was a director in Dublin of the worldwide Colliers International group of property consultants. An important part of our role was to seek out and act for international companies thinking of establishing in Ireland.
In that we were very successful and helped numerous multi-nationals – Siemens, Oracle, Sanofi, Microsoft, Coco-Cola, Google, AirBnB, Ingersoll Rand, Adobe and many, many more. It is my belief that despite the attraction of the Republic’s low corporation tax, few, if any, of these companies would have established in Ireland if they did not view Ireland as a gateway to the EU.
Northern Ireland has a small economy and needs all the help it can get. The proposed new low tax rate may attract a few companies but it comes very late in the day – of course it should have been introduced years ago.
The EU has made mistakes and accepts that it needs to reform but still, the benefit of having such a huge trading block right beside us should not be squandered.
We can only hope that the isolationist, little Englanders in the Home Counties don’t succeed on June 23rd!
Roderick Downer, Downpatrick