Last week, I had the honour on behalf of Ibec to accept a Business & Finance award celebrating the outstanding achievement of the organisation and its contribution to Irish business over 25 years. This recognition is tribute to the strength of our membership and a great finale to our 25th anniversary. The event had over 1,000 attendees with other recipients including Mary McAleese, Jose Manuel Barroso and Joe Schmidt. The Businessperson of the year was Ibec Board member Tony Smurfit, CEO of SmurfitKappa and fellow Ibec Board member Caithriona Hallahan accepted the FDI Company of the year award for Microsoft. In her speech, former President McAleese referenced Ibec’s role in the All Island economy, an agenda which we will continue to prioritise.
Ireland’s membership of the EU and, in particular, the Single Market has been THE game changer during this quarter century. Ibec has always campaigned positively for the EU in every referendum. It has helped Irish business internationalise; access new markets, new people, new technologies and new capital sources. EU membership also underpinned the peace process, the Good Friday Agreement and the removal of a hard border on this island. It is vital that Brexit does not undermine these achievements. Business played a key role in creating the conditions for peace and prosperity. Securing these achievements into the future is a priority.
A strong business voice has never been more important given the fragmentation in politics and society we witness daily. No other country on earth matches the global footprint of business as Ireland does today. It is a model of substance with great depth and diversity. Take one observation: the highest growth in exports globally has given rise to the highest growth in employment in any developed country in that time period. That’s 1 million more at work than in 1993: a doubling of employment. And there is more to come. These achievements have been truly immense and Ibec is pleased to have been a contributor to that success by being the voice of Irish business throughout.
As Christmas is nearly upon us, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your support and efforts and wish you and your family Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year. The last 25 years are testament to your efforts and dedication in transforming the business community into one of the most sophisticated in the world. I leave you with a link to the Ibec @25 video which was commissioned to mark this milestone.
Stronger together, here’s to the next 25 years.