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Speech by the Taoiseach, Mr Enda Kenny T.D., at the opening of the €100 million R & D facility at MSD, Ballydine

 Thursday 22 September 2011


Ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to be here with you today in Ballydine to open this magnificent facility.

I think it is important to acknowledge MSD’s partnership with Ireland and with the local community here in Ballydine since its establishment here in 1976. The country has changed dramatically since then but MSD continues to provide welcome investment and jobs in areas such as Ballydine.

Today the pharmaceutical sector goes from strength to strength in Ireland with over €24 billion in exports last year. This week alone has seen new announcements on more investment and more jobs in the sector.

The new Government very much wants to build upon this success and encourage the development of a global hub of pharmaceutical expertise and research in Ireland.

As such MSD is a very important company for Ireland, employing 2,300 people countrywide and investing over €2.2 billion in Ireland during the past five decades.   

This €100 million centre has already resulted in the creation of 70 jobs with the potential for further job creation.

And medicines being developed here are likely to make a significant positive impact on people worldwide.

Your decision to locate this worldwide pharmaceutical R&D centre here in Ballydine demonstrates significant confidence in Ireland and I welcome that.

 Economic outlook

I welcome that confidence because I believe it is justified.

There are significant reasons to be optimistic about Ireland’s future despite a difficult period for the global economy.

Ireland’s debt sustainability outlook is far more positive now than it was when the Government took office 6 months ago. We have successfully negotiated several key changes to the programme of assistance:

  • The Government has successfully renegotiated the interest rates which will give rise to significant savings for the state. Some €900 million in 2012 and over €10 billion over the lifetime of the extended programme; and
  • The EU/IMF agreement was also amended also to allow for the jobs initiative, the restoration of the minimum wage and also to provide that no further loans were transferred to NAMA.

Ireland also has a growing, young educated workforce.

Our competitiveness has improved significantly. Business costs have fallen across the economy and labour costs are expected to reduce further this year.

Our exports continue to perform strongly with a 7% increase recorded in the first quarter of this year.

Contribution of FDI

FDI in Ireland increased significantly in 2010. IDA clients account for over 70% of total Irish exports.

Ireland’s 12.5% rate of corporation tax remains sacrosanct and is a cornerstone of our economic policy and will remain so.

This view is shared across the political spectrum and public opinion in Ireland.

Our corporation tax scheme is simple and transparent while other countries choose to apply more complex systems.

But our arrangements are appropriate for our small and flexible export-oriented economy.  And will help us along the road to recovery.

Almost 11,000 new FDI jobs were created in 2010. The outlook for 2011 looks positive with investments to midyear up on the same period of 2010.

And we badly need these new jobs if we are to tackle the current jobs crisis and get our people back to work.


Another key aspect of our strategy is investment in research and innovation – which has trebled over the past decade.

 In the mid-1980s, it is true to say that Ireland didn’t feature in terms of the impact of its scientific research.

But through our trebling of R&D spending over the past decade we are now in the top 20 in the world for the quality and relevance of our scientific research.

More specifically, Ireland is currently ranked:

-        3


in the world for the quality of research in Immunology;

-        8


in the world for the quality of research in Materials                     Science and

-        1


in the world in the area of genetics and genomics.

And this strength is also reflected in our performance in terms of multinational investment, exports and jobs.

- We have eight of the world’s top ten medical technology companies located here;

- We are the world’s largest net exporter of pharmaceuticals;

- In 2010, medical and pharmaceutical exports were worth €24 billion; and

- The lifesciences sector employs 50,000 people directly in Ireland.

This is a position we endeavour to protect and improve upon. Our recent economic shock has highlighted how invaluable these sectors are to the Irish economy and society. Bringing the whole Irish economy back to life is the top priority of this Government.

As I have said on many occasions since taking office, I want Ireland to be the best small country in the world in which to do business by 2016.

We have started this journey to improve the Irish economy, to make it more open, flexible, and competitive.

On occasion there has been criticism of investment in R&D at a time of cutbacks and scarce resources. Ireland’s strong position in these sectors shows that investment in research plays an important role in economic development and in attracting high value investment to Ireland. Investments like the one we are marking today.


Today is a great day for MSD, for Ballydine and for Ireland.

I would like to congratulate everyone involved in bringing this facility to Ballydine and wish you every success for the future.