Minister urges assertiveness to attract post-Brexit business

Ireland must lobby harder to attract financial services companies, says Eoghan Murphy

Eoghan Murphy, Minister of State at the Department of Finance, is launching the International Financial Services Action Plan for 2017. “We won’t be predatory but we must be competitive.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Eoghan Murphy, Minister of State at the Department of Finance, is launching the International Financial Services Action Plan for 2017. “We won’t be predatory but we must be competitive.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

Ireland must become more “assertive” in attracting banks and financial services companies who want a European Union base as Britain prepares to leave the union, the Minister with responsibility for financial services has said.

Eoghan Murphy, the Minister of State at the Department of Finance, said Ireland must enter a new phase of lobbying in order to attract companies preparing to leave the City of London.

On Monday, Mr Murphy launches the International Financial Services Action Plan for 2017, a follow-on from a five-year strategy for the sector that was launched in 2015.

This week also sees 600 delegates come to Dublin for the European Financial Forum in Dublin Castle, which will take place on Tuesday. Mr Murphy will host the event.

Given British prime minister Theresa May’s move towards a so-called “hard Brexit”, which will see Britain leave the single market and customs union, Mr Murphy said “it’s increasingly likely that companies accessing the single market for financial services from the UK will need a new EU base from which to do so”.

‘New phase’

In anticipation of financial services jobs coming to Ireland, the Government has said it is considering setting up a school that offers an international education based on the baccalaureate.

Mr Murphy said the Government had thus far intentionally taken a “subtle approach” to wooing jobs from the City of London, given the importance of Ireland’s relationship with the United Kingdom.

“A huge amount of work has been done behind the scenes, here in Ireland as well as abroad, by everyone in Government. Industry has been key in organising engagements, providing intelligence, and shaping our plans.

“Just as it was in our union’s interest to speak to the Irish community in the UK in the run-up to the referendum vote, so too must we now act to increase the size and capacity of Ireland’s financial sector in order to meet the needs of the European single market.”

Moving jobs

On an analysts’ call on Wednesday, Citigroup chief executive Michael Corbat highlighted the group’s European base in Dublin as it continues to weigh options for Brexit. “We have got a lot of flexibility in terms of our structure. Our bank is European-based in Ireland. We have got people in 20 or 22 of the EU countries. So that flexibility’s there and we don’t see a disruption.”

The US banking giant, which currently employs about 2,500 people in Dublin, moved in November to deny reports that it planned to move as many as 900 jobs to Dublin from the UK under its Brexit battle plan. The group held a board meeting in Dublin in late October, with Mr Corbat also using the visit to meet Taoiseach Enda Kenny.