Northern Ireland not favoured by southern companies…

PWC’s annual Pulse Survey of Irish CEOs has some interesting detail on the attitudes of big companies to investing in Northern Ireland. Apparently only one third feel that Northern Ireland is an attractive location for investment when compared with the Republic.

* 67pc of the respondents said Northern Ireland is not as attractive a location for investment compared to the Republic.

* 78pc of multinational companies say that Northern Ireland is not as attractive a location for investment as the Republic.

* 52pc of indigenous companies said Northern Ireland is not as attractive a location for investment.

  • hotdogx

    very disappointing results, this is an area that the assembly is going to have to work on, and shows the damage the boarder has done and is still doing. I don’t know how NI is going to reduce tax for companies as changing tax rules across a single jurisdiction goes against EU rules. Any government that cant change tax is really only mickey mouse government! however in a UI…..

  • I’m not sure the border is the primary fault here. I doubt ‘trickle down’ (or ‘trickle over’) is going to fix this problem: the rural border counties in the Republic have only lately seen substantive improvements from the Celtic Tiger.

    Our political instability is a stronger disincentive for CEOs. As one senior US diplomat is fond of saying, “capital is a coward”. NI has to make itself attractive, not simply lower the economic threshold of the border and cross fingers to hope that southern prosperity washes across.

  • SuperSoupy

    Or you could say almost 50% of southern business thinks the north is as good or a better investment than the south.

    Comes down to presentation.

  • Genuine Snapshot

    Yeah, it’s the border that puts Southern businessmen off investing in the North. Not deeply ingrained Southern dislike of the North. Still less the profound shudder any businessman would have wasting his money in eg areas with lots of Sinn Fein supporters. You know, those famously friendly to business & hard working types.

  • jaffa

    “I’m not sure the border is the primary fault here. I doubt ‘trickle down’ (or ‘trickle over’) is going to fix this problem: the rural border counties in the Republic have only lately seen substantive improvements from the Celtic Tiger.”

    I think that makes the point Mick. If dual currencies / compliance costs / payrolls etc mean you just can’t be bothered trading across the border then setting up business in the border areas is effectively setting up business on the periphery of your domestic market which will increase your costs and decrease your opportunities. Centrally located towns like Monaghan and Cavan should have a busy Wiltshire / Oxfordshire feel to them at the intersection of trade between Belfast, Dublin, Galway and Derry. They don’t.

  • jaffa

    “Yeah, it’s the border that puts Southern businessmen off investing in the North. Not deeply ingrained Southern dislike of the North. Still less the profound shudder any businessman would have wasting his money in eg areas with lots of Sinn Fein supporters. You know, those famously friendly to business & hard working types.”

    If you want to bring subjectivity into it, I think it might also be the spite of some of the other people up here.

  • Genuine Snapshot

    What with being a businessman in what is laughably called the real world (trading north and south of the border, and on the British & European mainlands too), yeah, I’d say you have to admit subjectivity into the rational [sic] choices businessmen make when they invest their money. As for the ‘other people’ you refer to, and the Southern prejudice against them, I kinda hoped I had covered that (& thus them) when I alluded to the, “deeply ingrained Southern dislike of the North” in toto.

  • jaffa

    “and the Southern prejudice against them”

    you’ve got your prejudices the wrong way round.

    I also have a business. I trade across Northern Ireland. My results give me no reason to discount areas with a high Shinner headcount any more than any other urban area.

  • Dec

    …areas with lots of Sinn Fein supporters. You know, those famously friendly to business & hard working types.

    Why don’t you just say ‘lazy fenians’ and be done with it?

  • Yokel

    And this is a surprise?

    Jesus christ, its a bit obvious. Southern business types look at the figures and know it isnt great.

    Many Northern business types are just reflective of much of the the wider population, bunch of whinging gits.

  • Genuine Snapshot

    9. …areas with lots of Sinn Fein supporters. You know, those famously friendly to business & hard working types.

    Why don’t you just say ‘lazy fenians’ and be done with it?

    Posted by Dec on Apr 20, 2007 @ 10:30 AM

    Because, Dec, that’s not what I meant, not having a sectarian bone in my body. You, on the other hand, can puff yourself up and pretend to be opposed to sectarianism, whilst of course rancidly carrying out your own blatant sectarian name-calling agenda as much as you want, but here’s a thing – I’m willing to bet that you haven’t a clue how or why real life businessmen (and women) go about investing their (which is to say, our, or still more specifically, my) money. Here’s a few facts for you –

    * we don’t like crime or disorder or drug dealing in potential areas where we’re contemplating making an investment (and an investment, Dec, is something we expect to see a return on).

    * Nor do we don’t like low levels of educational attainment.

    * We don’t local politicians being hoods, drug dealers or Marxists

    * And, tempted as we are by low wages, we don’t get especially enthused by areas riddled with welfare dependncy.

    So let’s go back to areas in Northern Ireland where there are high levels of Sinn Fein support. Do any of the conditions I’ve outlined above apply? Well what do you know, all of them apply. It’s a wonder that there’s as much Southern money cominn North as there is, and if it reflects anything other than ‘funny money’ arranged by the semi-states in returning for deals being cut on eg planning issues, it’s because the Republic has reached the absolute limit of its potential for new domestic investment, hence why domestic profits are being sent abroad. That’s a very old Capitalistic story Dec, but no doubt you would rather start crying about Huns or somesuch.

  • BP1078

    78pc of multinational companies say that Northern Ireland is not as attractive a location for investment as the Republic.

    Businessmen from the ROI are 25% more likely to invest in NI than multinationals…that’s the key statistic here. If the border was the real reason, then you’d be looking at a reverse situation (e.g. multinationals can cope much better than businesses principally domiciled in one country with the risks arising from currency rate differentials).

    Multinational companies do business across much more *real* borders than the one existing between ROI and NI, its not the border which is stopping them investing here but still lingering perceptions of political instability

  • On the survey, it’s a pity they didn’t ask why CEO’s didn’t think of NI as being as good a place to invest as the Republic. I can think of four good reasons why people might not want to invest in NI: higher taxes; fears about political stability; a very small consumer base, a lack of skilled workers. I suppose the good news is that, with the right policies, we’re not stuck with these comparative disadvantages.

  • Wilde Rover

    Four out of five multinationals is the most telling statistic.

    It would seem that part of the allure of the Celtic Tiger is that when it is compared with its dysfunctional cousin to the north it looks like the perfect place to invest.

  • Ian Sectar

    Genuine Snapshot,

    The only prejudice being displayed so far here is your own, with your ridiculous, over-the-top reaction to a bunch of statistics by labeling all southerners as ‘prejudiced’, having a ‘deeply ingrained dislike of the North’ and your obvious sarcasm in describing SF supporters as ‘famously friendly to business and hard working types’. Why don’t you grab your jacket and take a quick walk around the block to calm down.

    While you’re at it, count the number of sectarian slogans you see spray-painted on the walls up there, and all the paramilitary murals you see painted on the gable end of houses, honouring murderers and psycopaths – on BOTH sides of the conflict. And don’t forget the kerbs painted in tribal colours.

    Then ask yourself again: if you were Swedish/Spanish/American/South African etc – would you REALLY be willing to risk locating a company in NI, when Dublin, an hour down the motorway, is a much nicer, cleaner, safer, happier, relaxed place, with a lower rate of corporate tax?

    I mean, would you really even consider living there yourself? Knowing what we all know about NI, I don’t know many people who would.

  • jaffa

    GS

    * we don’t like crime or disorder or drug dealing in potential areas where we’re contemplating making an investment (and an investment, Dec, is something we expect to see a return on).

    Me too

    * Nor do we don’t like low levels of educational attainment.

    Me too

    * We don’t local politicians being hoods, drug dealers or Marxists

    Me too

    * And, tempted as we are by low wages, we don’t get especially enthused by areas riddled with welfare dependncy.

    Me too

    My business is very location specific – although there are economies across the whole, each unit serves a local market, each required quite an investment and there’s a high proportion of fixed cost.

    I find the staff in my Shinner locations delightful, committed to continuous eduction, honest, fair minded, the lot.

    Actually, nearly all my team are like that!

    At least the ones I picked! 🙂

    All very subjective I know.

    In a previous life I’ve worked with people across the world.

    Northern Irish people do whinge more that most and you have to be careful with the HR stuff but I think there’s a kind of calvinist fear of failure behind much of the whinging which is the flip side of a lot of potential.

    Our potential productivity is every bit as strong as the best, by which I mean people in the Nordics.

  • hotdogx

    people here in the south don’t hate the north or its people although people in the south dislike what unionism did to the country they regard the north as unstable socially and economically , a pretend england and a difficult place to do business, no railway links, poor roads the need to dial 00 353 every time you want to call just down the road, different currency, high taxes among a whole host of other problems, these are the issues that will have to sorted out if the north is ever going to move on.

  • Genuine Snapshot

    As ever, the teeniest bit of truth-telling about Norn Iron, and the Republic’s attitude to it, for instance, stirs up the usual fantastical spew.

    Ian, nowhere did I say all Southerners think the same way about anything. Believe me, I don’t subscribe to any political doctrine that imputes the same worldview to an entire nation – I’ll leave that to the world’s ardent herrenvolk-nationalists. What I did attempt to explain for those of you who don’t have to invest large sums of your own money, more succinctly than here (ie for fluency I didn’t parse every clause in my own post) is that there tends to be amongst a great many (and whether an absolute majority or not, certainly a manifestly disproportionate and therefore significant element thereof) Southern businessmen (the people *I* do business with) an ingrained prejudice against the North.

    One could make a similar generalisation – to illustrate the bog-standard rhetorical technique employed above (but which of course on Slugger needs a thousand footnotes) rather than to make any political point one way or the other – that the world over businessmen in eg the manufacturing trades tend to have a generalised reluctance to employ the severely physically handicapped, discrimination legislation notwithstanding. That’s how we make points in argument ie we don’t enumerate one by one every single instance of a widely diffused tendency happening, because of course no human being can. Why is is that the world web over, such astoundingly simple points have to be set out, speaking to an ADD child-style, only on Slugger? [BTW {yep, here’s some more crude footnoting} you got the self-deprecrating joke there, with that only, didn’t you?]

    Incidentally, I’d go further in saying that there exists a prejudice amongst Southerners with money against investing in the North. I’d say that they’re entirely right (so many of them) to think thus: on the whole we’re an East German basket case of an economy, and if you’re got surplus cash of your own, the better places by far than hereto invest it.

  • Yokel

    Ciaran

    Spot on. These things obviously matter and as a result NI doesn’t necessarily always score high.

    What people also have to understand is that for businesspeople in the Republic NI looks like an easy market to enter because ist next door but actually it isn’t as simple as that.

  • Genuine Snapshot

    people here in the south don’t hate the north or its people although people in the south dislike what unionism did to the country they regard the north as unstable socially and economically , a pretend england and a difficult place to do business, no railway links, poor roads the need to dial 00 353 every time you want to call just down the road, different currency, high taxes among a whole host of other problems, these are the issues that will have to sorted out if the north is ever going to move on.

    Posted by hotdogx on Apr 20, 2007 @ 11:03 AM

    How lucky Southern dislikers of the North are to have Good reasons to dislike their putative would be fellow countrymen. God forbid there should ever be any lingering justification for old school ill-feeling by Northern Unionists against the South (you know, what with the instituional support offered to the Provos by past FF governments, the extirpation of Southern Unionism etc etc). Anyway – *very* argument you advance was an argument employed before partition why the South shouldn’t leave the Union. That it would econmically retard the South, by cutting it off from the rest of the UK, as of course it did for 70 odd years. When are Nationalists finally going to wake up and realise that just as economic arguments never worked on them, either before and during those three generations of destitution (and the humilating spectacle of the best and brighets in the South having to flee to the hated England if they were ver to get on), there’s hardly likely to work on Unionists either?

  • kensei

    “Incidentally, I’d go further in saying that there exists a prejudice amongst Southerners with money against investing in the North. I’d say that they’re entirely right (so many of them) to think thus: on the whole we’re an East German basket case of an economy, and if you’re got surplus cash of your own, the better places by far than hereto invest it.”

    Reasons that could be applied to English Business people, American Business people, French Business people…. actually just business people because there are somewhat sound business and economic reasons for not investing here. That isn’t “prejudice”, it’s a reasoned decision based on the risks versus the opportunity.

    In general, I’d guess that businessmen who do prejudice about potential markets are not particularly successful.

  • George

    Genuine Snapshot,
    could you provide evidence for this assumption of yours that southern businesses are prejudiced against NI.

    Why are southern businesses from indigenous companies twice as likely to invest in Northern Ireland than foreign-run companies based in the Republic?

    Using your logic, it would appear that foreign businesses are twice as prejudiced against Northern Ireland as Irish ones.

  • Genuine Snapshot

    I’ll take with a pinch of salt Kensei’s strictures as to what makes businessmen successful or not (here’s a clue though: successful businessmen tend to live and work in the real world, and in the real world, emotion and subjectivity trump abstract ‘reason’ in the affairs of man 9 times out of 10, and it serves you well to know that).

    My point about Southern business prejudice against the North is essentially twofold and answers both Kensei and George’s points I think – of course the reasons people tend to think twice about investing in Northern Ireland apply, Kensei, to businessmen from other places – the point is, Southern businessmen know and feel them best of all. And George, there’s no suprise in that figure: Northern Ireland is after all the South’s nearest, easiest target market and should be its largest one.The point is (and even I’ve grown weary with this post of making it), given their very proximity, Southern investment ought by any transnational standard to be far higher. It’s at the level it is precisely because of the subliminal, or concsciously felt but politicly unspoken feelings about the North (both sides) that so many Southern businessmen have, and are, in short order, basically right to have. Quick question, no answers needed: if a latter day Martin McGuinness came to for a job interview, what exactly is the case for emplying him? His qualifications? His ability to get on with his fellow man? his sunny disposition? Away and catch yourselves on – and when you do so, you’ll find most Southern business folk there long ahead of you.

  • SuperSoupy

    That’s not an answer, other than ‘because I say so’.

    The point is that Irish owned businesses are much more likely to invest in the north than southern based non-Irish owned businesses.

    As you present no evidence to support your claims using the actual evidence, the statistics, it is clear that southern business is not prejudiced against investing in the north.

    You ranting without any evidence doesn’t make an argument or make you seem like a successful businessman, if one at all.

  • George

    Genuine snapshot,
    so I take it you have absolutely no evidence to back up your claim about prejudice. If you do, then produce it.

    Otherwise, I will just have to assume that you came to this judgment before learning where the preponderance of the evidence actually lies, which, oddly enough, is an accurate definition of prejudice. Funny that.

    I thought I’d check out the export/import scenario and seems NI exports to ROI are growing but ROI exports to NI are stagnant.

    Imports to ROI From NI jumped from 946 million euros in 1997 to 1.2 billion in 2005.

    In comparison imports from Britain jumped from 10.6 billion to 16.4 billion.

    Exports to NI from ROI in the same period only rose from 1.34 billion to 1.48 billion.

    In comparison exports to Britain jumped from 9.7 billion to 13.67 billion.

    So a huge growth in trade between Britain and Ireland (Republic of) but nothing as significant going in within the island.

  • Dec

    GS

    not having a sectarian bone in my body

    And yet you ascribed drug-dealing, welfare-dependancy and crime (and the rest) as purely Republican/Nationalist phenomena?

    Ps Good luck on finding a Marxist in SF

    I’m willing to bet that you haven’t a clue how or why real life businessmen (and women) go about investing their (which is to say, our, or still more specifically, my) money.

    Is it by spending most of Friday mornings producing sectarian bilge on the internet.

  • kensei

    “I’ll take with a pinch of salt Kensei’s strictures as to what makes businessmen successful or not (here’s a clue though: successful businessmen tend to live and work in the real world, and in the real world, emotion and subjectivity trump abstract ‘reason’ in the affairs of man 9 times out of 10, and it serves you well to know that).”

    So let’s review the sum total I said on the subject:

    “That isn’t “prejudice”, it’s a reasoned decision based on the risks versus the opportunity.”

    “In general, I’d guess that businessmen who do prejudice about potential markets are not particularly successful.”

    Apparently, those are controversial statements. The market forces reason, by the way. Emotion won’t help you if the bottom line is hurting.

    I think I am justified in calling you a complete fucking moron.

    “of course the reasons people tend to think twice about investing in Northern Ireland apply, Kensei, to businessmen from other places – the point is, Southern businessmen know and feel them best of all.”

    Uh:

    * 78pc of multinational companies say that Northern Ireland is not as attractive a location for investment as the Republic.

    * 52pc of indigenous companies said Northern Ireland is not as attractive a location for investment.

    I can only suggest that as they feel them more, they’d be more comfortable taking the risk.

    “And George, there’s no suprise in that figure: Northern Ireland is after all the South’s nearest, easiest target market and should be its largest one.”

    Actually, that is probably England. There simply aren’t enough people here.

    “The point is (and even I’ve grown weary with this post of making it), given their very proximity, Southern investment ought by any transnational standard to be far higher.”

    Any figures to back that one up?

  • Dev

    “areas with lots of Sinn Fein supporters. You know, those famously friendly to business & hard working types.”

    What utter nonsnese! So the entirety of N.I. west of the Bann is full of work-shy, layabout dole scum? The premise of your arguement seems to be that those who vote for SF are lazy and anti-business, as you will no doubt have noticed, SF has become a quite popular political party of late so either the nationalist middle class who used to vote for the SDLP but now chose SF have all decided quit their jobs and sign on OR you talking out of your arse….I suspect it’s the latter.

  • Sean

    As a Business man, albeit a Canadian one, the average business man looks first at the potential for profit, difficulty of regulation and availability of staff.

    I wish i was in the position of northern Ireland, the biggest problem I have today is staff availability. I have to accept people that are underqualified and unsuitable because if I didn’t i wouldnt have any staff. If I was in northern Ireland I could always find people to do the work and as they were found to be unsuitable or work shy i could pare my crew and add new blood in.

    Right now 3% is the unemployment rate in my local area and the general estimate is that 4% of the population is unemployable.

    But then I pay well and I dont care where you live or what your last name is as I do not have preconceived notions of people based on their religion or political persuasion

  • smcgiff

    ‘Right now 3% is the unemployment rate in my local area and the general estimate is that 4% of the population is unemployable.’

    LOL!

  • barnshee

    George
    Strip out the booze (Irish distillers moving whiskey backwards and forwards and the Guinness/Harp swops)and there is effectively no trading going on North/South
    What (apart from the booze) has either party got that the other wants??

  • Dev

    “What (apart from the booze) has either party got that the other wants??”

    Isn’t that enough?!

  • Ian Sectar

    “Strip out the booze (Irish distillers moving whiskey backwards and forwards and the Guinness/Harp swops)and there is effectively no trading going on North/South
    What (apart from the booze) has either party got that the other wants?? ”

    Perhaps that’s because we all inhabit the same place, and are producing the same stuff with the same natural resources.

    That’s the trouble with an artificially imposed border you see…sometimes people have to be reminded that, even though some pretend that NI is ‘a different country’, in reality it’s the exact same place!

  • Its the border — stupid

  • medja

    It is a different country! Most from the south want nothing to do with the place after dealing with it for awhile. In fact if you ask most business people they would have a closer connection with the mainland U.K.

    Ye moan and groan about almost everything all the time. It’s not a positive place to work and it’s hard to get good staff. I speak from experience. Southern friends of mine wonder if I have my head screwed on when I try to defend the place.

    And this goes for both sides, there’s a give me everything attitude which isn’t attractive to employers and investors. Especially when none of your staff turn up on a Monday Morning!

  • hotdogx

    people here in the south don’t hate the north or its people although people in the south dislike what unionism did to the country they regard the north as unstable socially and economically , a pretend england and a difficult place to do business, no railway links, poor roads the need to dial 00 353 every time you want to call just down the road, different currency, high taxes among a whole host of other problems, these are the issues that will have to sorted out if the north is ever going to move on.

    Posted by hotdogx on Apr 20, 2007 @ 11:03 AM

    How lucky Southern dislikers of the North are to have Good reasons to dislike their putative would be fellow countrymen. God forbid there should ever be any lingering justification for old school ill-feeling by Northern Unionists against the South (you know, what with the instituional support offered to the Provos by past FF governments, the extirpation of Southern Unionism etc etc). Anyway – *very* argument you advance was an argument employed before partition why the South shouldn’t leave the Union. That it would econmically retard the South, by cutting it off from the rest of the UK, as of course it did for 70 odd years. When are Nationalists finally going to wake up and realise that just as economic arguments never worked on them, either before and during those three generations of destitution (and the humilating spectacle of the best and brighets in the South having to flee to the hated England if they were ver to get on), there’s hardly likely to work on Unionists either?

    Genuine snaphot,,
    So you are telling us all that up to 1916 ireland was doing well under the british contol, no problems no wars, famines everybody was happy and had a vote, there was no discrimination everybody had equal rights we had a government over in bitain that represented us fully, people could speak the language they wanted, go to school, get jobs. And thats the trouble with ireland there are irish people, right!

    So according to you, after independence it all went wrong, how lost you are, more people had to leave ireland or were displaced during british control than at any other time in our history, may i suggest you do some reading, as it is only since independence that things have gone right in ireland. By the way the irish government never supported the provos or their actions. nice try, more unionist myths,

    The north may hopefully be a success one day, but not so long as the border exists.

  • Greenflag

    Yokel

    ‘Southern business types look at the figures and know it isnt great. ‘

    That’s it – the numbers . The rest of the world strangely enough is also ‘prejudiced’ against Northern Ireland for the same reason.

    The Northern Ireland private sector is very small in comparison to the Republic’s . The Republic’s economy has been increasing by half the NI private sector every year or by the total NI private sector every two years . NI average GDP per capita is less than half that of the Republics so it makes more economic sense for companies in the Republic to focus their growth on the Republic’s growing market and on Britain /EU /Asia /USA etc etc than on a small regional low to middle income region.

    Kensei ,

    ‘I’d guess that businessmen who do prejudice about potential markets are not particularly successful.’

    Indeed !- just look at all those successful American and European businessmen who are so prejudiced against China because of it’s ‘communist ‘ regime and the massacre of Tianemen Square .

    Yokel,

    ‘ for businesspeople in the Republic NI looks like an easy market to enter because it’s next door but actually it isn’t as simple as that.’

    That’s right . Not being a member of the Purple/Black Preceptory/OO etc and being unaquainted with the intricacies of the denominational guessing game is such a disadvantage that many of the Republic’s business people would rather do business in a more ‘normal’ and less potentially politically ‘hostile’ environment .

    That and the unending ‘whinge’ of course .

    But in the final analysis it’s the numbers !

    Members of the new Assembly should take note – It’s the numbers – Not that they can do much about changing them anyway !

  • Brian Boru

    Kindof obvious. NI’s economy is run along Socialist lines unlike in Mainland UK. Business-taxes are too high. Meanwhile an expansive public-sector rips off consumers, while the prevalence of employment in the public-sector reduces the available pool of labour for the private-sector.

  • Greenflag

    Brian Boru ,

    You must have a PhD (piled high and deep ) 🙂
    in economics or uncommon ‘common sense 🙂

    ‘Kind of obvious’

    Well not to General Snapshot 🙂 Chap can’t see beyond the blinkers be was born with 🙁

  • Greenflag

    General Snapshot,

    states on the one hand

    ‘The point is (and even I’ve grown weary with this post of making it), given their very proximity, Southern investment ought by any transnational standard to be far higher.

    and then on the other hand he states

    ‘on the whole we’re an East German basket case of an economy,

    IIRC neither West Germany nor any EU country invested in East Germany until the latter State ceased to exist .

    Perhaps there’s a lesson there for the General Snapshots of NI ! Just another of the blame everybody else for our poor investment performance track record bar ourselves !

  • hotdogx

    NI was brought into existence by undemocratic means and is unstable. When NI ceases to exist and the border disappears will the celtic tiger then leap in there and investment will happen. That was the case with east germany that will be the case with NI

  • Greenflag

    More numbers and facts on this ‘issue’ as opposed to General Snapshot’s waffle 🙂

    David McKittrick writing in today’s Independent (British)

    ‘If Northern Ireland’s prosperity is to be restored, its tax system must be overhauled in line with the Irish Republic, Sir Anthony O’Reilly has warned.

    The chief executive of Independent News & Media, which owns The Independent and the Belfast Telegraph, said yesterday that the current tax system in Northern Ireland could prevent its economic growth. Sir Anthony said that, with a new Assembly and Executive about to take power in Belfast on 8 May, Northern Ireland had all the right ingredients to become a major growth market – “with the exception of tax”.

    He repeated his call for a tax cut, saying: “The inflow of foreign investment has largely passed Northern Ireland by. I strongly believe that a reduction in corporation tax would go a long way to redress the balance and open new opportunities for the local economy.”

    In common with others, he attributed much of the Irish Republic’s recent prosperity to its low rate of corporation tax. Many of Northern Ireland’s political parties are expected to press Westminster for the lowering of the tax rate.

    Sir Anthony was speaking in Newry, where Independent News & Media’s new Print Centre was officially opened by the former MP for Newry and Armagh Seamus Mallon. Expected to create 60 jobs, its full-colour press is described as the first of its kind in the world.

    A new state-of-the-art library at Queen’s University Belfast is to be named after Sir Anthony. While Sir Anthony’s interests extend across the globe, yesterday’s developments highlight his importance in the media world on both sides of the Irish border and his donations to educational establishments in both Northern Ireland and the Republic.

    Construction has already begun on the £45m landmark Queen’s University building which is due to open in 2009. To be known as the Sir Anthony O’Reilly Library, it will house 1.5 million volumes and have 2,000 reader places.

    It has been designed by architects based in Boston who have already developed more than 50 major academic libraries at establishments including Harvard, Yale and Cornell.

    The O’Reilly name is already to be found on major university buildings including Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin and Dublin City University. His foundation, chaired by his wife, Lady Chryss O’Reilly, provides scholarships to students from both parts of Ireland. His long-established Ireland Funds have raised more than $300m for projects north and south.

    Sir Anthony helped to provide £4m of the Belfast library’s cost, including a large personal donation and monies from the Ireland Funds and Independent News & Media (Northern Ireland), the publishers of the Belfast Telegraph. Queen’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Gregson, said: “The library will be the focal point of the campus. We are honoured that this building will be named after one of our most distinguished honorary graduates, whose dedication to the advancement of society in Ireland is legendary. This is a milestone in philanthropic giving.”

    Has any Northern Ireland ‘businessman’ done as much for NI as Tony O’Reilly or Eddie Haughey both of whom are from the Republic ?