Go raibh maith agat Catherine, Tá sé de phribhléid agam a bheith in éineacht libh tráthnóna inniu chun traidisiún Mheiriceá Lá an Altaithe a cheiliúradh.
Tar éis trí bliana, is féidir linn teacht le chéile arís le buíochas agus machnamh a dhéanamh ar an méid atá bainte amach againn agus muid ag tnúth leis an mbliain atá romhainn.
It is a genuine pleasure for me to join with you today and to have the opportunity, in person, to wish you all a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.
I would like to extend my thanks, in particular, to your President, Catherine Duffy, and CEO, Mark Redmond, for inviting me this afternoon, and for the kind words about the work of government and the public service during the pandemic.
I would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge also the work undertaken by Chamber members, many of whom were at the very forefront in tackling the pandemic; producing unprecedented quantities of vaccines, treatments, and medical equipment. Many of the members of AmCham are the architects of the miracle of modern science and medicine that saved countless lives through the course of the pandemic.
I also want to put on record how much the government values the relationship we have with AmCham and the respect we have for the important advocacy work you do on behalf of your members. I can assure you our door will always be open for engagement with AmCham.
I would also like to extend my congratulations to this year’s Cairdeas award winners - Pieta House, Cork Simon Community, and Cliona’s Foundation, who all do inspiring work in their communities, and deserve our deepest appreciation for their outstanding contribution.
Ireland and the United States enjoy a very special bond based on shared democratic values and close political, cultural and economic ties.
This unique relationship must never be taken for granted, and I want to thank the Chamber for the role they play in fostering and nurturing our connections with the United States.
Next year will mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. This important milestone serves as a reminder to us all that the future of this island must be based on cooperation and mutual understanding amongst all communities and traditions.
Of course, the United States played a pivotal role in making the historic Good Friday Agreement possible, and the Irish government and the Irish people will be forever grateful for that vital contribution which underpins the peace we enjoy on the island today.
I would like to thank Ambassador Cronin for the extraordinary energy, passion and enthusiasm you bring to the role. It feels like you have been here a lot longer than you actually have! With your Irish roots and your journey through life, you are in so many ways an embodiment of the Irish American story.
The Ireland of today is unrecognisable from the country of just a few decades ago. We are now a prosperous country with a standard of living that ranks among the best in the world.
The 1950s and 60s brought major change in Irish industrial and economic policy. Recognising the importance of free trade to the prosperity of our country, visionaries such as Seán Lemass and T.K. Whitaker, set about opening up Ireland’s economy to the world.
All along the way, US companies have played an enormous role bringing jobs investment and development to all parts of the country.
Of course, when we speak of Foreign Direct Investment, it can sound quite technical and I think it’s always good to remind ourselves what it means for people and communities across Ireland.
It means jobs, secure incomes and livelihoods for so many individuals and families in our country, it means investment in communities, and it means more opportunity for our indigenous Irish businesses in that wider ecosystem.
I would like to acknowledge and pay tribute to the critical contribution the members of the Chamber have made, and continue to make, in supporting the vibrancy and success of our economy.
Thanks to your hard work, and the hard work of all businesses across Ireland, supported by Government, we avoided a prolonged decline in economic activity from the pandemic, and saw our economy rebound quickly as conditions allowed.
I want to recognise the survey undertaken by the Chamber and the positive results contained in it. 94% of respondents have said that their corporate headquarters have a positive view of Ireland and more importantly 61% have said that they expect the number of employees in the Irish operations to increase in the next 12 months.
Given the global economic backdrop at the moment, that is in many ways a remarkable finding and I think is a reflection that the experience of US companies of doing business in Ireland is overwhelmingly positive.
Employment levels are now at their highest level ever, with in excess of 2.5 million people at work, while the participation rate has improved to the highest levels in over a decade, driven by a very welcome, significant, increase in women and young people in employment.
Today, we think of the people of Ukraine and the devastation brought upon them by the Russian invasion. The bombing of civilian areas in the past couple of days is a stark reminder of the brutality of this war. The fortitude and resilience of the Ukrainian is truly an inspiration.
The war has had profound effects on the global economy.
The government is acutely conscious of the impact of inflation and in particular energy costs is having for our people and businesses, as we face more challenging economic circumstances.
Our priority at present is on safeguarding jobs and protecting people's incomes, especially households who are struggling to deal with rising costs, while also ensuring businesses are supported.
As part of this, we remain absolutely committed to ensuring our continued attractiveness to Foreign Direct Investment, while simultaneously developing our indigenous enterprises, providing opportunities for our people.
We will do this by ensuring a pro-enterprise policy framework, by providing a stable and sustainable regulatory and tax environment and sound management of the public finances, and by delivering on our fully funded plans to address housing, energy security, infrastructure, skills needs and the green transition.
I know that housing is a critical issue for many of your members, and I want to assure you that access to an affordable home is a top priority for this government. Through our Housing for All plan, we are providing over €4.5 billion next year to provide more social, affordable and cost rental homes. We are making progress with a major increase in supply this year.
A new consolidated Planning Bill will be brought to government next month which will greatly improve the functioning of the planning system through a whole range of measures, which will involve imposing statutory timelines for all consent processes – including by An Bord Pleanála.
I want to extend a very special thank you this afternoon to IDA Ireland for their outstanding work. It is great to see the Interim CEO Mary Buckley and Chairman Frank Ryan here today. The IDA had a record year last year, and is continuing to deliver new investments for Ireland, despite the difficult economic backdrop.
This year is also a momentous one, in that we celebrate 50 years of Ireland’s membership of the European Union.
Our membership of the EU gives us a reach and an influence that we would not otherwise enjoy, underpinning Ireland’s deeply positive participation in twenty-first century networks of global economic and political cooperation.
These past fifty years have seen the transformative and overwhelmingly positive impact of EU membership across all dimensions of our society.
The freedom to travel, to live, to study and to work across all of the EU, is an extraordinary benefit our people enjoy. This also contributes to Ireland attractiveness as a place for talent and businesses alike.
The strength of our position within Europe, in turn, benefits our other relationships.
Ireland, working with the US, will continue to promote and defend the benefits of a reliable global environment, where multilateral cooperation can open doors and level the playing field for open and fair trade.
We will also continue to play our part in working to strengthen EU-US relations.
On this day of Thanksgiving our presence again here is a testament to the extraordinary and longstanding bond between Ireland and the United States.
I would like to thank all the members of the American Chamber of Commerce, for the vital role you play in supporting this relationship between our two nations, ensuring it can continue to grow and flourish, now and into the future.
Lá an Altaithe sona daoibh. Happy Thanksgiving to you all.
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