LATEST NEWS: Sweeney comments on Ireland's future

Ireland's future can't depend on foreign high-tech companies - Sweeney

Ireland needs a vision that promotes indigenous sector as aggressively as it promotes foreign direct investment

Following rumours of yet more job losses at an Irish-based multinational, Alcatel-Lucent, Fine Gael's General Election candidate for Dublin North East and founder of O'Brien's Sandwich Bars, Brody Sweeney, said that this was yet another example of how Ireland is dangerously over-dependent on foreign high-tech companies.

He said: 'This is just the latest in a sequence of crises in the Irish Information, Communications and Technology sector which has seen more than 1,000 jobs thrown into jeopardy in recent weeks.

'Despite the Minister for Enterprise, Michael Martin's claims that everything is okay, it is blatantly obvious that the recent trend of companies such as Pfizer, Motorola and Maxtor, relocating high-value manufacturing jobs to cheaper labour markets is set to continue.

'Ireland alone, among well-developed Western Nations, cannot buck this trend. The sooner we accept that we are extremely vulnerable, the sooner we can start to develop alternative strategies.

'Four foreign companies - Dell, Intel, Microsoft and Pfizer - now account for more than 20% of Irish exports and foreign owned firms accounted for 92% of all exports in 2006. This makes us shockingly vulnerable to either a global economic downturn or the high-tech jobs drain we are experiencing at the moment.

'While the Government must pursue its strategy of moving further up the jobs ladder with better paid high-tech jobs, it's high time we realised that our future economic success must not rest on the blind pursuit of knowledge economy jobs, to the exclusion of almost everything else.

'Much as the Grandfather of the modern Irish economy, TK Whitaker, sat down 40 years ago and had the vision to foresee the Celtic Tiger, the fruits of which we currently enjoy. We now need a vision of where we want to be 40 years from now.

'We need a vision that promotes our indigenous sector as aggressively as it promotes our Foreign Direct Investment. A vision that is not exclusively based on a 'knowledge economy' but which also includes sectors in which Ireland has natural advantages like agriculture, food production and tourism.

'These are sectors which we shun in favour our high-tech ones, but which nevertheless have the capability of lessening our hopeless over-dependence on forces which are outside our control and which could balance up our economic development.'