Seanad debates

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Commencement Matters

Brexit Issues

10:30 am

Photo of Neale RichmondNeale Richmond (Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I welcome the Minister of State and thank her for taking this very important debate.

I have said it here and in many other forums that Brexit will be an absolute disaster. It will be massively negative, especially for Ireland, in economic terms. However, it will present a few slim opportunities on which Ireland must capitalise in order to offset the negative economic impacts. In the financial services sector and attracting foreign direct investment, the opportunities are quite obvious. However, from an institutional point of view, the European Medicines Agency is one of just two decentralised EU agencies in the United Kingdom, the other of course being the European Banking Authority. With the European Medicines Agency seeking a new home, Ireland could and should be the obvious location for it.

Why do we want the European Medicines Agency to relocate to Ireland? It has a secretariat of over 600 people and an annual budget of over €300 million. Relocating from London to Ireland would provide a massive, direct boost to the economy. The European Medicines Agency is a beacon for many international pharmaceutical companies which wish to be based close to the central regulatory body for the industry. Bringing it to Ireland would see a surge in interest among pharmaceutical companies that are looking to relocate to Ireland. A number of Japanese pharmaceutical companies based in London are on record as stating they will go wherever the European Medicines Agency goes. As matters stands, the European Union is the source of about one third of the new drugs brought onto the world market each year. Bringing the European Medicines Agency to Dublin would provide a huge boost for the research and development sector.

The question is where in Ireland should the European Medicines Agency be located. I know that my colleague, Senator Frank Feighan, has put the case for it to relocate to Carrick-on-Shannon. While a case could be made for its relocation to Cork or Galway, the obvious destination would be Dublin which meets many of the criteria various media outlets and trade publications have laid out as being vital to wherever the European Medicines Agency relocates. Ireland is home to many of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, including GSK, Pfizer, Abbott and Wyeth, all of which, among others, have offices in Dublin. Both Trinity College Dublin and UCD have large schools of pharmacy. Loughlinstown in south Dublin has already enjoyed great success in being home to the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions and its staff of about 100. In south Dublin, in particular, there are three international schools, St. Andrew’s College in Booterstown, St. Killian’s Deutsche Schule in Clonskeagh and the Lycée Français in Foxrock, that offer the international baccalaureate, a very important aspect when looking to relocate the families of people working for the European Medicines Agency.

Dublin is only a short flight from London, which would allow for easy telecommuting for those who for various reasons would remain in London during the early stages of relocation, particularly when compared to the other leading candidate cities, namely, Milan and Stockholm. As we always say on the world stage, Ireland is a country in which English is spoken and has a low-tax and open economy, with a highly intelligent local population, something Milan and Stockholm do not offer.

I wish the Minister of State and the Government the very best in their efforts to bring the European Medicines Agency to Ireland. Much like the bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup, it is vital that all of our political, civic society and commercial leaders come together to back the bid to have the European Medicines Agency relocate to Ireland.


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