Google in Ireland takes ‘wait and see’ position on Brexit

Internet giant has opened a new €150m data centre in north Dublin

Vice president and head of Google in Ireland, Ronan Harris, said Google in Dublin was a “growth engine” for businesses in Ireland and across the EMEA area.

Vice president and head of Google in Ireland, Ronan Harris, said Google in Dublin was a “growth engine” for businesses in Ireland and across the EMEA area.

 

Google has adopted a “wait and see” approach to the Brexit referendum in Britain next week and will not make any decisions about its operations until it sees the result, the company’s head in Ireland has said.

Ronan Harris was speaking at the opening of Google’s new €150 million data centre in west Dublin on Thursday, attended by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald and Minister for Jobs Mary Mitchell O’Connor.

“We are going to wait and see what the outcome of the referendum is and then we’ll assess what the British people have decided and the British government then decide to do. At the moment we don’t have clarity on that so we haven’t made any decisions, accordingly,” Mr Harris said, when asked if Google would have to make any changes to its operations.

Also in attendance at the centre launch was Minister for Enterprise, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, who acknowledged that the Government is “concerned” about the possibility of a Brexit.

“But I mean we can’t get into speculation. The result is far from certain. We are just going to have to wait until after the 23rd and see what happens.”

IDA

IDA chief executive Martin Shanahan said meanwhile it was obviously in Ireland’s best interest that Britain remain in the EU but the vote was a matter for British citizens.

“Should the UK vote to leave, obviously it’s going to be very complex what will ensue. For Ireland, there are going to be implications in terms our trade with the UK. Obviously we share a land border with the UK and from an FDI perspective, obviously investors who are looking at Europe may see advantage to locating in Ireland or within a European Union country should the UK be outside of Europe.”

Mr Shanahan said the IDA was marketing Ireland before the referendum was announced, was continuing to market it and would be marketing it after the British referendum regardless of the outcome.

“I’m hopeful that there will be more jobs coming to Ireland regardless of what the outcome is on the 23rd. That’s what IDA is about. We have seen a really strong pipeline of investments in the first six months of this year. The announcement here today by Google is an example of that, Google having grown their employee base by 1,000 in the last year alone and I see more of that continuing.”

Mr Shanahan said Ireland was now arguably the tech hub of Europe and was also performing extremely strongly in other sectors such as life sciences and international financial services.

Data transfer

Separately, Mr Harris indicated conversations were “ongoing” in relation to the current legal uncertainty around legal mechanisms for the transfer of the personal data of EU citizens to the US.

“What we’ve got to do is we’ve got to stay abreast of both the new technologies and help inform what we think the future looks like so that policymakers can make the right decisions,” he said.

Google’s new data centre in Grangecastle is the company’s second major data investment centre in Ireland. It employs 30 people including computer technicians, electrical and mechanical engineers, catering and security staff.

The two-storey facility, which created 400 jobs during the one-year construction phase, houses servers that run services such as the Google search engine, Gmail and Google Maps.

It was built alongside Google’s existing data centre, which opened in 2012, and over 80 per cent of the companies involved in building it were Irish.

Google said it had invested €750 million in capital assets in Ireland so far. It employs 3,000 people directly and about 3,000 on contracts.

The company currently has more than 250 positions available at its EMEA headquarters in Dublin.