Data centres are ‘key to Ireland’s economic model’, says IDA head

Benefits of data centres extend beyond the jobs created when they were being built, Michael Lohan has said

IDA Ireland CEO Michael Lohan. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

The head of the IDA, Michael Lohan, has robustly defended data centres, saying they are of core importance to digital technologies.

The benefits of data centres extend beyond the jobs created when they were being built, he told RTÉ Radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show. They are part of an ecosystem, he said.

“We have probably 40,000 jobs directly related within design, engineering, which is all about data centres, all about managing of data, controlling of data, data analytics, that all is hanging on the back of the infrastructure that is data centres.

“And then you look at the supply chain, we have a whole indigenous ecosystem that’s supported it, not just in Ireland, they actually support that globally.”

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The two major transitions in Ireland as a society and for enterprise were digital and sustainability, and they don’t actually exist independent of each other, said Mr Lohan.

“You must have both in order to digitise. You must digitise green in order to be sustainable. You need digital technologies to get there. So it’s core today.

“Secondly, I would say from an Ireland perspective, it is central to our ambition in terms of our technology, our innovation, and indeed our society in terms of everything moving on to the cloud and digital. That requires digital infrastructure and data centres are the digital highways of the future.

“Thirdly, as well as that from an Ireland perspective, we have really benefited here. We have grown a very strong Indigenous number of companies who are experts in data centre construction, data centre design and data centre operations.”

Mr Lohan denied that data centres were being offered as part of the deal for overseas investors. Companies made their investment decisions on the basis of a number of factors.