Irish chief executives united in view of Brexit as UK strategic error

Company bosses believe UK move to exit EU will have negative consequences for Ireland

FBD chief executive Fiona Muldoon: said there was no upside to Britain’s decision to leave the European Union. Photograph: Alan Betson

FBD chief executive Fiona Muldoon: said there was no upside to Britain’s decision to leave the European Union. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Irish chief executives are unanimous in viewing Brexit as a strategic error for the UK that would have negative consequences for Ireland.

Pat McCann of hotel group Dalata described the decision as “madness”. Nonetheless, he said the firm was going ahead with investments in the UK, noting there was a danger of letting the current uncertainty turn into “paralysis”.

The head of insurance firm FBD, Fiona Muldoon, said there was no upside to Britain’s decision to leave the European Union. “I think Brexit is a real shame from an economic, social and historical perspective for the UK, for Europe and, most of all, for Ireland.”

“In business terms it will likely put unnecessary roadblocks between markets and it means that one of our biggest trading partners and main allies on many issues in the EU has decided to go it alone,” she said.

Open Skies

Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary was unavailable but the airline’s chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs, said there was a distinct possibility that there may be no flights between the UK and Europe for a period of time after March 2019.

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“Some nine months on from the Brexit referendum, we are no closer to knowing what effect it will have on aviation,” he said. “ It’s become worrying that the UK government seems to have no plan B to maintain Britain’s liberalised air links with Europe, in the absence of remaining in the Open Skies regime,” Mr Jacobs said.

Chief executive of Providence Resources Tony O’Reilly said he believed Brexit probably would not turn out to be as bad as commentators were predicting. He said Britain had always shown itself adept at international commerce and this was likely to continue regardless of the its relationship with the EU.

“The decision was surprising, but now that it’s been done they’ll action it and it probably won’t turn out as bad as people have prognosed,” he said.

Glanbia’s Siobhán Talbot said while the UK was not one of Glanbia’s major markets it was clearly an important part of the European and global economy. “Like all businesses we could do without the added uncertainty that the Brexit vote has inflicted on the UK and global economy,” she said.

“It’s simply too early to tell what the full impact of Brexit will be on the general business environment because nobody knows what the long-term relationship between the UK and the EU will look like,” Ms Talbot added.

For Irish firms not directly exposed to Brexit, there was concern over how it would affect business sentiment here.

Richard Moat, chief executive of telecoms firm Eir, said:“For us the risk of Brexit isn’t so much a direct operational risk. It is more a question about how Brexit could impact business sentiment in Ireland. That is much harder to gauge.”