Dublin’s post-Covid recovery should be a matter for national debate
Multinationals invest in the capital partly because they can attract young workers to live there
Temple Bar has long been one of Dublin busiest hotspots for socialising. But the street are largely empty due to Covid 19 restrictions. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Part of the State’s foreign direct investment (FDI) strategy is to promote Dublin city as an investment location of international significance, capable of competing with other big European cities for mobile capital. This approach is explicitly laid out in the promotional literature of IDA Ireland, the State’s inward investment agency.
The success of this strategy is apparent in the who’s who of multinational tech names that have chosen to locate in the city, such as Google, Facebook and LinkedIn. Those companies obviously chose to be in the Republic, in part, for its competitive tax regime. But they are also in Dublin because it has an international reputation as a buzzy and attractive place to live and work, which allows these companies to tempt young foreign tech workers to relocate here.
Dublin has long had its problems, such as a shortage of housing and other soaring living costs. But for the past 20 years or so, it has also had an undeniable vibe that has fed directly into the State’s FDI strategy. Without that vibe, which is predicated on social opportunities and nightlife that are considered attractive by young workers, would Google or Facebook have invested so much here?
Local traders group Dublin Town held a web discussion on Monday to come up with ideas to revive the capital’s night-time feel once the pandemic recedes. But it shouldn’t be just left to local officials and businesses to renew the city after the pandemic
Geopolitical mood music suggests Dublin’s attraction as a tax-efficient investment location may come under threat in future years. That leaves the city’s attraction as a location for young workers as one of its remaining cards to play. It is a national imperative that the city recovers as much as possible of its previous buzziness, which has been extinguished by the pandemic and the ensuing anti-virus restrictions that have sucked the life out of the city. A national strategy is required to breathe life back into the capital.