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IDA boss didn't talk to the government before calling for a Yes vote

Martin Shanahan’s call for a Yes vote in the same-sex marriage referendum has not gone down well with the No side.

Martin Shanahan
Martin Shanahan
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE of the IDA did not consult with the Department of Jobs (DJEI) before calling for a Yes vote in the same-sex marriage referendum.

Martin Shanahan has been heavily criticised by the No side after telling the Irish Times that a Yes vote on 22 May would be in the State’s economic interest and would send out a positive message internationally.

By contrast, a No vote, he said, would send a very negative signal to the world of international business, adding that a large number of multinationals in the US have come out in favour of same-sex marriage.

His intervention has been described as “absolutely risible” by the head of the Iona Institute, David Quinn, who is encouraging a No vote.

A spokesperson for the IDA said that Shanahan’s comments were made “in a personal capacity in response to questions raised during a wide ranging interview with the Irish Times”.

“This issue was not discussed in advance with DJEI,” they added.

A spokesperson for Job Minister Richard Bruton said: “There were no discussions between the Department and IDA Ireland about the interview comments you refer to, in advance of them being made.”

The IDA is mainly responsible for attracting foreign direct investment into Ireland. Shanahan took over from Barry O’Leary last August and made headlines worldwide after a bizarre interview on US television.

Criticism


Quinn said that by intervening the IDA is stepping “far outside its proper remit”.

“It is simply risible for it to pretend that its brief to improve Ireland’s economic prospects gives it permission to do this,” he said.

On this basis, why not say what Government we should vote for next time? Who we have in Government is much more relevant for the economy and for our multi-nationals than our definition of marriage.

He said that many major economies have not legalised same-sex marriage and there is no evidence that this affects them in any way.

Quinn added: “The intervention by the IDA in this debate is simply one more example of a major institution of ‘Official Ireland’ breaking its normal stance of neutrality in these matters to strong-arm Irish people into voting No. If we vote No it will not affect the Irish economy in any way, shape or form.

Shanahan has also been accused of “grossly abusing his position as the head of a State body” by the independent senator Fidelma Healy-Eames.

“This is extraordinary and, as far as I know, unprecedented interference in the Irish democratic process by the Head of the IDA,” the former Fine Gael senator said.

Read: That mortifying IDA interview has gone viral internationally – here are the headlines

Read: This is the new guy who has to woo big companies (and their jobs) to Ireland…

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Hugh O'Connell

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