National Economic Dialogue


The National Economic Dialogue (NED) took place last week (16th-17th July) in Dublin Castle. The event, which is the first of its kind, brought together representatives from Government, members of the opposition, business groups, unions, community and voluntary groups and other stakeholders. The objective of the dialogue is to facilitate an open and inclusive exchange on the competing economic and social priorities facing the Government as they prepare for Budget 2016 and beyond.


The dialogue commenced with a plenary session on the budgetary context, which was attended by the Taoisearch, Tánaiste and most of the Cabinet. 


The Chamber Network was represented at the National Economic Dialogue by Chambers Ireland Board Member and Chief Executive of Fingal Dublin Chamber Tony Lambert and Mark O’Mahoney, Director of Policy and Communications.


Over the course of the dialogue, the representatives advocated the interest of the Chamber Network and the wider business community by highlighting policy areas identified as critical to reinforce Ireland’s economic growth. Among these were the need for capital investment, protecting our national competitiveness, reforming the tax system to better support our businesses and entrepreneurs, and addressing the lack of affordable childcare. Please see attached note for more information. 

Increases to minimum wage rate premature and unwarranted


Chambers Ireland has called on Government to prioritise securing Ireland’s economic recovery and ensuring sustainable jobs growth when considering the Report of the Low Pay Commission.


Mark O’Mahoney, Director of Policy and Communications, Chambers Ireland said, “We are in danger of undermining our economic recovery if we do not focus on maintaining our competitiveness. Ireland’s recent economic performance has been strong, but as the Report of the Low Pay Commission itself points out, this recovery has been patchy and Ireland still faces risks from the external environment.”


“The Report of the Low Pay Commission recommends a significant increase of almost 6% to the National Minimum Wage. An increase of this level is both premature and unwarranted. We urge Government to consider the full impact such an increase will have on future employment growth and our national competitiveness”, he concluded.

Port of Waterford appoints new CEO


Port of Waterford Frank RonanThe Port of Waterford Company has appointed Frank Ronan as chief executive officer designate. Mr Ronan will replace Stan McIlvenny who retires in October after more than 11 years at the helm.


A chartered accountant, Mr Ronan will join the Port in October. Most recently Strategy Development Manager with Glanbia Ingredients Ireland Ltd, Frank Ronan was managing director of Wexford Creamery for nine years until July 2014 when it was acquired by Glanbia Ingredients Ireland Ltd and also previously spent 13 years with Stafford Group as finance director.


Announcing the appointment, Des Whelan, Chairman, Port of Waterford Company, said: “Frank will bring a wealth of relevant business leadership and experience to the role and the board look forward to working with him and the entire Port of Waterford team to ensure that the Port capitalises fully on the economic recovery that’s now underway. There are tremendous opportunities to grow and diversify the Port’s business and Frank will lead the team in achieving that.


“We were very pleased with the calibre of applicants who responded when the CEO position was advertised in February and have every confidence that Frank is the ideal candidate to build on the work done by Stan McIlvenny and to take the Port forward as a key export and import gateway for the southeast region and Ireland more widely.


“In announcing Frank’s appointment, I also want to take the opportunity to publicly acknowledge the excellent  work done by Stan McIlvenny as CEO since 2003. Stan has transformed how the Port operates. The reorganisation that he led and his astute management of the Port through the economic downturn leave the company well-positioned for growth.”

SMEs and Burdensome Regulations


Chambers Ireland, in partnership with Eurochambres, is taking part in a project known as the “Burden Tracker”, which aims to indentify pieces of legislation that are burdensome for SMEs and subsequently alert policy makers to their negative impact. As part of this process, Chambers Ireland aims to identify 3-4 pieces of EU legislation that are problematic for companies (e.g. legal uncertainty, excessive bureaucracy, unnecessary regulatory burden, etc) and campaign for an evaluation of the EU legislation national and European level.


Examples of legislation that can prove unnecessarily burdensome on SMEs include the Late Payment Directive, the Package Travel Directive, REACH etc.


Waterford Chamber would welcome input from members in identifying pieces of legislation that are overly burdensome on SMEs. Members can submit their feedback on burdensome regulations to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Now is the time to build for the future, not just the next Budget


Chambers Ireland is today (16/07/15) representing the Chamber Network at the Government’s National Economic Dialogue. Chambers Ireland will advocate for the needs of the business community across Ireland as the Government prepare for Budget 2016.


Speaking today, Mark O’Mahoney, Director of Policy and Communications, Chambers Ireland said, “This forum is a great opportunity for the Chamber Network to articulate the needs of the business community. The State has finite resources and we need to ensure that the best choices are made on how to use these resources to ensure that we have a society that we, and future generations, will want to live and work in.”


“We need to ensure significant levels of capital expenditure to keep pace with our recovery. There are a number of infrastructure projects, particularly in transport, which need investment now to ensure our connectivity and attractiveness as a place to do business. Investment to develop affordable and accessible childcare is also vital. Proper access to affordable childcare services has positive implications for female labour market participation, the social well-being of children, the gender-pay gap, and Government revenues due to higher labour participation rates.”


Commenting on the forum, Nick Donnelly, Chief Executive, Waterford Chamber said, “We need to encourage a new generation of entrepreneurs to invest and take risks. With adjustments to the tax system, we have the opportunity to foster a real culture of entrepreneurship which rewards innovation and risk taking. Successful entrepreneurs create jobs and help the economy grow. This goes hand in hand with local economic development. Now that we are on the right track, it is time to ensure that our recovery is reaching all areas of the economy.”


“While these are key areas to be considered for Budget 2016, it is important that we look beyond October and build for the future. We need to ensure we are creating the kind of Ireland that we want our children and grandchildren to live in,” he concluded.

Government must incentivise entrepreneurship


Waterford Chamber has today (15/07/15) called on Government to use the tax system to foster a culture of entrepreneurship in all sectors of the economy. The call came as the Department of Finance undertakes a review on tax and entrepreneurship.


Speaking today, Nick Donnelly, Chief Executive, Waterford Chamber said, “We must incentivise a new generation of entrepreneurs to establish businesses and generate indigenous growth and employment. With the appropriate adjustments to our tax structures, Government can support a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation which will create jobs and help sustain our economic growth.”


Irish tax structures discriminate against the self-employed and owner directors on a number of fronts.


“Entrepreneurs take great risks and this should be recognised and rewarded by our tax system. Currently, owner-directors and the self-employed cannot avail of a tax credit in the same fashion as their PAYE counterparts. We believe that a tax credit on earned income similar to that available to PAYE workers (€1,650) should be introduced for the self-employed.”


“Similarly, those earning over €100,000 are faced with an additional USC burden of 3% over and above what PAYE workers earning the same income must pay. In order to encourage and support entrepreneurs, the USC for self-employed earnings over €100,000 should be brought in line with that of PAYE workers. Given the critical role of entrepreneurs for the future of the Irish economy, it would be appropriate that the tax system is adjusted to reflect their contribution,” he concluded.


To read the full submission to the Department of Finance, click here.

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