Voices from the floor what the delegates said


“We’re here because we see this corridor of trade as being a core market for us,” said Darren Lemon, general manager of Eircom UK, based in Belfast. Mr Lemon said Eircom had been involved in the British Irish Chamber from its inception, viewing the group as a “business community”.

His Dublin-based colleague, Ronan Kneafsey, managing director of Eircom Business, said the company wants to grow its business in the UK and saw opportunities in the conference. Both said the uncertainty created by David Cameron’s referendum pledge “probably” wouldn’t harm business too much. Mr Lemon said existing channels should be “robust enough” to withstand such wobbles.

Bob Doyle travelled from London for the event, hoping it would help him to build links between the city and Irish companies. As senior business development manager with promotional organisation London Partners, Mr Doyle works with Irish businesses that want to invest in London.

“It’s mainly about trying to scale up the business,” he said, adding that Irish companies “feel welcome” in the UK.

He has noted a recent uplift in business development within the Irish ICT and creative sectors and is hoping the Chamber will host more sector-focused events.

“We’re experiencing a tech boom in London at the moment. There are great opportunities for Irish SMEs.”

Dublin-based GlaxoSmithKline vice-president and general manager Aidan Lynch , said his company, as one of the biggest UK businesses in the Republic, had pushed for the creation of a body such as the chamber for quite some time. He hopes the organisation and its events will help the employees of British companies to “recognise the scale” of what they do in Ireland, as well as enhancing Ireland’s reputation in general.

Neither he nor his Cork-based colleague, GSK director Jim McGrath, expect Mr Cameron’s referendum move to have a big impact on investment decisions.

However, Fergal Boland, an Irish management consultant based in England, believes British companies that want to be guaranteed an EU presence will now look at relocating.

“It might just make people think, ‘we should prepare for this’,” he said.