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    The consequences of Brexit and increasing corporation tax competition are challenging Ireland’s ability to sustain its current economic development model. Attend the Policy Forum at UCC on November 3 2017, "Rethinking Irish Economic Development".

Organised by Professor Eoin O’Leary, from the Competitiveness Institute in the Cork University Business School, the forum will focus on how Irish policy makers can rethink a strategy for an increasingly uncertain future.

By exploring how both indigenous and foreign-owned business drive national growth and investigating how policy can help, the forum will make a key contribution to “Ireland 2040: The National Planning Framework”


Rethinking Irish Economic Development

Given past failures and in the face of future threats, such as BREXIT and corporation tax competition, Irish policymakers should not revert to business as usual. Yet, as currently envisaged, Ireland 2040: the National Planning Framework  does not address the sectors or regions from which Irish growth is to emerge and the governance arrangements required to fulfil Ireland's growth potential. This forum gives Irish policymaker’s an opportunity to re-assess the current policy mind-set in order to build on strengths and address weaknesses. 

The aim of the forum is to:

  • explore how indigenous and foreign-owned businesses in Irish cities, towns and rural areas can drive national growth for the next two decades
  • investigate how policy, at national, regional and local levels can help, either by supporting these businesses or by removing obstacles to their competitiveness

The forum is being organized by Professor Eoin O’Leary from the Competitiveness Institute in the Cork University Business School, University College Cork.

In his recent book on the rise and fall of the so-called Celtic –Tiger economy, Professor O’Leary argues that the Irish economic development record has been one of serial under-achievement since 1970.  The dominant policy mind-set has had notable successes through sustained attraction of foreign-owned businesses.  However, there have been two major policy weaknesses: a failure to develop critical masses of indigenous businesses and an inability to resist capture by rent-seeking lobbies. Eoin has argued that it is essential to address these deep-seated weaknesses for Ireland to reach its potential and avoid further crises.

Policy Forum, November 3 2017

The event will be opened by President of UCC, Professor Patrick O’Shea, and chaired by Professor John McHale from NUIG. 

The presenters are leading Irish-based researchers in the area of Irish economic development.  Each will deliver a 15 minute non-technical presentation that shows an understanding of the context in which policymakers work and a willingness to help re-think policy for future development.  There will be ample opportunity in the schedule for Q&A after each presentation.

The forum is targeted at policymakers working on Irish economic development at the national, regional and local levels and/or on Ireland’s indigenous and foreign-owned sectors. The focus is on bridging the gap between internationally recognized evidence-based research and policy-making aimed at building a sustainable future for Ireland. 
Register to attend


Prof Patrick O’Shea
President of UCC 

Opening of Forum


Prof John McHale

Chair’s Address


Eoin O’Leary, UCC

Rethinking Irish economic development policy.


Seamus Coffey, UCC   

How sustainable are favourable tax policies for future Irish economic development?


Bernadette Power, UCC

The stock of Irish businesses before, during and after the crisis: what are the implications for Irish development policy?


Coffee/Tea and Refreshments


Chris Van Egeraat, NUIM

How can we identify sectoral and spatial concentrations of Irish-based businesses? – implications for policymakers. 


Lisa Noonan, UCC

The role of agglomeration economies and demonstration effects for Irish foreign - owned manufacturing productivity: lessons for policy.


Eleanor Doyle, UCC

Irish Cluster policy: a discredited idea or the way forward?




Kevin R. Murphy, UL

Polices for supporting innovative human capital in Irish business.


Thia Hennessey, UCC

The Irish Agri-food sector: policies for future development.


Sean Barrett, TCD

A case study of rent–seeking in Ireland: the Irish Bus industry.


Prof John McHale

Closing Remarks

The Policy Forum will take place in Devere Hall, Áras na Mac Léinn, UCC.

Parking is available at the Visitor Carparks. Click to view parking at UCC


Download forum agenda 

Forum SpeakerS

John McHale

John McHale is a well-known and respected economist who has served as Chairman of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Authority: 2011-2016. He also researches in the areas of innovation, human capital and economic geography. John will chair the day’s proceedings

Eoin O'Leary

Eoin has for many years been an independent voice on Irish economic development. He will concentrate on how the Irish policymaker’s mind-set can both help and hinder Ireland’s ability to realise its economic development potential by 2040.

Seamus Coffey

Seamus is a well-known and astute commentator on the Irish economy. His presentation will assess the sustainability of favourable corporation tax policies for future Irish economic development.

Chris Van Egeraat

Chris van Egeraat is a highly respected Irish-based economic geographer. His presentation will consider what spatial and sectoral concentrations exist in Ireland and how policymakers can support them.

Bernadette Power

Bernadette Power specialises in small business research. She has developed a unique data set on the stock of Irish businesses across all sectors on the economy. She will discuss policy implications of how the Irish business stock has changed since 2006.

Lisa Noonan

Lisa Noonan has recently completed her PhD. Lisa will present the policy implications of new research with Eoin O’Leary on the importance of location and the presence of other Irish-based foreign-owned businesses for Irish manufacturing productivity.

Eleanor Doyle

Eleanor Doyle is director of UCC’s Competitiveness Institute which promotes the value creation capacity of Irish-based enterprises. She will debate whether cluster policy is indeed a discredited idea or a way forward.

Kevin R Murphy

Kevin Murphy was recently appointed to the Kemmy Chair of Work and Employment Studies at the University of Limerick. Kevin will present joint work with Prof Helena Lenihan (UL) on policies for supporting human capital formation in Irish business.

Thia Hennessy

Thia Hennessey is an agri-food expert & a recent professorial appointment to the Cork University Business School at UCC. She will assess the agri-food sector & consider policies for its future development including dealing with the implications of BREXIT.

Sean Barrett

Sean Barrett is a highly respected Irish economist and former member of Seanad Eireann. He will reveal the nature of rent-seeking, an important problem for Irish policymakers to consider, by presenting a case study of the Irish bus industry.

Irish Economic Development By Eoin O'Leary

High-performing EU State Or Serial Under-achiever? 

By Eoin O'Leary

This book offers a discerning narrative on the spectacular rise and fall of the so-called Celtic Tiger economy. It depicts Ireland as a micro-state with a unique reliance on foreign-assisted businesses, driven in part by a favourable taxation regime. It shows that rent-seeking by trades unions and property developers contributed to the fall since 2002. Although the country’s highly centralized government’s pre-disposition to lobbying has yielded international successes, it has also resulted in recurring self-inflicted crises since 1970.