Many thanks Conor for your kind introduction and for the invitation to join you here for today’s announcement of 250 jobs, an important milestone for Veritas Ireland. I am delighted to be here with Bill, Mark and Abhijit and all your staff in celebrating a good news story that sends a powerful message about the strength of our economy, and our confidence in the future.
This is the latest stage in the ongoing development of the business facility that Veritas Ireland is undertaking here in the Ballycollin Business Park.
I am glad to hear that of the new jobs Veritas Ireland are creating, 110 will be research positions offering opportunities to new graduates over the next three years.
This is a great development for both Veritas and for Ireland and will offer so many young professionals experience in working with a dynamic global company.
These are exactly the type of high quality rewarding jobs that we need to create here in Ireland to support the Government’s focus on quality employment for our people.
Your recent investment of €30 million ensures that Veritas is pushing beyond the frontier of innovation in Cloud Data Management.
Thank you for your belief in Ireland and what we have to offer.
Your expansion in Ireland, doubling your workforce; and placing a key part of your research and development here is a vote of confidence.
It shows confidence in the country’s strong business environment.
It shows confidence in Ireland’s deep pool of highly skilled people, supported by its strong education system.
I understand that the R&D project, which is making these new opportunities possible, was won for Ireland against stiff competition.
We have worked tirelessly to create the right conditions for high skilled companies like yours.
Ireland's key strengths as a location for investment are well known.
As a committed member of the Eurozone, we have a highly-educated English-speaking population and a business friendly environment.
In addition, Ireland offers a stable and competitive corporation tax system and strong incentives for research and development.
This will be vital in meeting the challenges arising from Brexit.
Our focus now is on building a resilient and competitive economy that can respond quickly to external shocks and technological change.
Next week, for the first time in ten years, we will publish a budget that will balance the books.
We also recognise the need to upgrade Ireland’s economic and social infrastructure.
It’s clear that Ireland’s infrastructure has not kept pace with economic and population growth.
That is why the Government has ring-fenced an additional €4.1 billion for allocation over the period to 2021 – on top of the existing Capital Plan.
This will increase capital expenditure by more than 70% over the next four years to almost €7.8 billion per annum by 2021.
This will see public investment in Ireland moving from relatively low levels to among the highest in the EU.
And before year-end we will publish a comprehensive 10 year National Investment Plan for the period 2018-2027. This will include non-Exchequer investment, for example by our semi-states in sectors like ports and energy, which are central to post-Brexit planning.
Significantly, this will be closely aligned with the National Planning Framework – the draft of which was published last week.
Of course, our ultimate goal is to generate sustainable and good quality jobs. We have made very significant progress in recent years.
The monthly unemployment rate now stands at 6.1% - the lowest since June 2008.
In the Action Plan for Jobs 2017 we have set a target of creating an additional 45,000 jobs this year - a goal we are well on our way to achieving.
I am delighted that these jobs being created by Veritas Ireland will play a part in contributing towards this goal.
However we cannot be complacent.
Our challenge now is to maintain a strong pipeline of talent to meet future business needs.
The National Skills Strategy provides a vision for sustaining and increasing Ireland's pool of talent out to 2025.
It encourages active participation of employers in skills development.
It promotes attainment of education at all stages of people's lives and careers through the promotion of lifelong learning.
Our Action Plan for Education contains a number of shorter-term actions to improve our education system with the ambition that the Irish education and training system will become the best in Europe.
It renews the focus on STEM subjects and making Ireland a world leader in STEM education. To this end, the Plan contains a commitment to introducing computer science to the senior cycle curriculum in 2018.
We are also building the supply of graduates and skilled professionals with core ICT and engineering qualifications at third level.
And Innovation 2020, Ireland’s five year strategy for research and development sets out our ambition for Ireland to become a global innovation leader by focusing on excellence, talent and impact.
To this end, I recently launched 4 new government-funded, SFI Research Centres, which involves investment of over €70 million in forward-looking research over the next six years.
As you know, digital technologies are disrupting and transforming the global economy.
Part of this transformation is the data – how information is processed, stored and managed.
Ireland is a leader in this area, often referred to as the ‘data capital of Europe’. We host data centres for many of the world’s largest technology firms.
And within our country, Dublin is home to one of the largest clusters of data centres in Europe.
We have become the location of choice for data centres for a number of reasons, including climate, fibre internet connectivity, energy supply and business environment.
We have the ability to provide high quality infrastructure for the large and fast growing digital economy.
We view data centre investment as validation of Ireland’s capability to provide the wider data ecosystem.
With such a strong pedigree on digital companies on our country, the Government is committed to build on our progress so far in giving Ireland a world-class data protection environment.
In particular, one of our key priorities, led by Minister of State Pat Breen, is to ensure that Irish organisations are fully prepared for the General Data Protection Regulation which comes into effect from May next. I know that Veritas has a particular interest in this area.
I have been reassured by the positive feedback I have received about our preparations for the Regulation.
The enacting legislation, the Data Protection Bill, is well advanced and due before the Oireachtas later in the autumn.
Business organisations and professional bodies are engaged in a range of awareness raising activities. Likewise the Data Protection Commissioner is rolling out a GDPR awareness campaign.
In addition, I was pleased that my very first public engagement as Taoiseach was to open the Data Summit in June this year, which was attended by over 900 people, and where preparations for the GDPR were a core theme throughout.
Over the months ahead we will be working to ensure that the messages around the GDPR are reaching all audiences, particularly smaller businesses.
To conclude, I would like to thank you for your ongoing confidence in Ireland, and in our highly educated and hard working people.
I wish you well as you embark on this new project. I look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship.