Cablegate: Brian Cowen: It,S Okay for Financial Service Jobs
RR RUEHAG RUEHROV
DE RUEHDL #0250 1281324
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 071324Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY DUBLIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9137
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES
RUEHBL/AMCONSUL BELFAST 0743
C O N F I D E N T I A L DUBLIN 000250
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/07/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON EI
SUBJECT: BRIAN COWEN: IT,S OKAY FOR FINANCIAL SERVICE JOBS
TO MOVE TO THE NORTH
Classified By: Pol/Econ Section Chief Ted Pierce;
Reasons 1.4 (B) and (D).
1. (U) On April 14, Irish Finance Minister Brian Cowen (who
will become Ireland,s next Prime Minister on May 7) and
Northern Ireland Finance Minister Peter Robinson (who will
become the FirstMinister of the Northern Ireland Assembly in
Jun) announced that their respective governments would
facilitate the move of up to 5,000 financial serices jobs
from Dublin to Northern Ireland. Robison noted that, "for anumber of months now Bria and I have had meetings,
correspondence, and ou officials working together to arrive
at this postion." The Ministers highlighted this new
inititive as another example of expanding North-Southcooperation.
2. (C) On April 16, ECONOFF spoke with Kevin Cardiff, Second
Secretary General in the Irish Department of Finance, about
the joint announcement. Cardiff said that the Irish
government did not intend to make any legal, regulatory, or
tax changes to facilitate the move of jobs to the North.
Rather, he said, the announcement was intended to "create the
right atmosphere and to signal that the Dublin authorities
would not block companies from moving some jobs to Northern
Ireland." He noted that, for the most part, jobs that move
North would likely have been lost to the Republic of Ireland
3. (C) Cardiff said that what was unsaid -) but very much
part of the thinking of those who crafted the announcement --
was that if jobs were going to move from the Republic, Irish
officials "would much prefer they go to Belfast than Poland."
He said that the Irish government also looked at this
initiative as creating a bridge for Irish firms to hook more
strongly into the broader UK market.
4. (C) Cardiff noted that not all Northern Ireland officials
were in agreement with the value of this announcement.
(Comment: There are significant pockets of unionism that see
stronger links with the South as an end-run to subjugate
unionist communities in the North. End Comment) Cardiff
also said that some in the North wanted Dublin to explicitly
state that moving jobs to Belfast was preferable to moving
them to other parts of the EU, but he added that no one in
the Department of Finance seriously considered such a
statement, which "would run afoul of EU law." Cardiff's
personal view was that, if Belfast is going to build up its
financial services sector, it needs to look beyond Dublin and
become a service provider for other nearby financial centers,
such as London, Edinburgh, and Glasgow.
5. (C) Comment: While this announcement was genuine in
terms of the Irish Government,s wish to promote economic
growth in the North, and certainly added luster to
North-South cooperation, it was also mildly disingenuous.
Ireland currently has a surplus of skilled labor in the
financial services sector, in part because economic growth in
Ireland has begun to flatten out. &The wink and the nod8
between Cowen and Robinson to keep such labor resources on
the island, rather then encouraging professional Irish to
branch out into the EU, keeps this valuable resource close to
6. (U) This cable has been cleared by Consulate Belfast.