Speech by the Taoiseach, Mr. Enda Kenny T.D.at the formal opening of the new Diageo Brewhouse,Guinness Brewery, St. James’s GateWednesday 10th September 2014, 2pm
Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s a pleasure to be here this afternoon. Thank you for inviting me.
I’m delighted to open the new Brewhouse on this historic site
A place of sea traders
Soul travellers picking up their passport here at the eponymous gate en route to the Camino of Santiago de Compostella.
For centuries all the living and on Usher’s Island ‘the Dead’
Dublin and its Dubliners
And today we start a new chapter of that story with the new Brewhouse at St James’s Gate.
I know that Ivan Menezes is acutely aware of its importance not only to our economy but to the sense of what Dublin is to us and to all our overseas visitors who hold the city its traditions and its people in their hearts.
In the 255 years since Arthur Guinness signed the lease on this brewery the Guinness name now incorporated under the Diageo brand has continued to grow and invest in Dublin.
This investment of €168 million is crucial not just for the city but for the country.
Today, Diageo employs around 1,500 people in Ireland.
In addition, it helps sustain thousands more jobs, in its buying of goods and services.
In 2012, the brewery here was the biggest construction project in Ireland, with 1,000 people employed on it.
And they did a good job because right now, the St. James’s Gate Brewery is one of the most technologically-advanced and environmentally-sustainable breweries in the world.
Its long and proud brewing tradition is moving into the 21st century and helping shape Ireland’s recovery in the process.
Today I’m glad to say those signs of recovery are there to be seen and felt by a growing number of our people.
The Statement of Government Priorities sets out how we intend to secure the economic recovery that has now begun and to ensure that it benefits the whole country.
The sacrifices that have been made are now paying off. Nothing will be done to put at risk the progress that has been made.
That is why we’ve committed to making further reforms to our tax and welfare systems to support people at work, improve our attractiveness as a location for employers and to encourage and make it possible for our young people who have emigrated to come home.
As you know, there is no single solution to the country’s unemployment challenge.
But we are doing everything possible and at times the impossible to build the kind of sustainable, competitive economy that will create the quantum and quality of the jobs we need.
The latest figures are encouraging. Unemployment is down from a high of just over 15 per cent to now just over 11 per cent.
With those figures it’s clear the Government’s job strategy in the Action Plan for Jobs and Pathways to Work is having the necessary effect.
And Diageo is playing its part in this transformation.
The industry has major economic benefits to Ireland. Through retail and hospitality it employs over 39,000 people here.
The value of the brewing sector to the Irish economy is €360 million.
In 1769, you exported I believe six and half barrels to England. Today, the majority of Diageo’s product here is for export. €800 million in product exported every year.
You are crucial to our agriculture sector. Local sourcing of barley and of course milk for Baileys runs now at €270 million a year.
It’s a source of great pride to our farmers that our premium local ingredients are enjoyed worldwide in premium brands.
And of course, Diageo plays a major role in our tourism sector.
The Guinness Storehouse, which opened to the public in 2000, is a hugely-impressive facility attracting over 1 million visitors a year.
It is one of the top attractions for our visitors as they come to listen to the history and learn the secrets of the perfect pour.
The Gravity bar, is the highest in the city offering glorious views across our glorious capital.
Your own ‘view’ of course is all about the sustainability I mentioned earlier.
You are an important member of Ireland’s national sustainability programme, Origin Green run by Bord Bia, through its remit of conservation and bio-diversity.
As you know its though Origin Green we want to set and reach targets to Reduce, to Serve and To Protect.
Reduce environmental impact;
Serve our local communities better; and
Protect our country’s rich natural resources.
In 2013, Diageo received awards for excellence in the field of environmental sustainability and I have every confidence you will add to those awards and be an example to others in the future.
But today as we look to the future for a few moments on this important day I want to honour the past.
100 years ago in 1914 800 employees of Guinness a name synonymous with this site went to fight in the First World War.
The company itself cites their seeing action in the devastating theatres of war across the globe.
Several were decorated the Military Medal, The Military Cross, the Croix de Guerre and the Distinguished Conduct Medal among their honours.
In this the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War We Remember Them.
And as we do we look to their descendants’ future Ireland’s future.
Forbes recently named Ireland as the ‘Best Country For Business’.
Proving that despite economic troubles, Ireland still maintains its extremely pro-business environment, we still have a strong business reputation.
For our part, the Government intends to keep working day and night to make and keep Ireland an attractive prospect for jobs and investment.
I wish you, Ivan, and all at Diageo the very best with its future investments and I know that Government Departments and Enterprise Ireland are on hand and willing to assist where possible to ensure future investment of your brand in Ireland are successful.
As for today, I wish you every success with business here in Brewhouse No. 4.