Marriage referendum Yes vote would be in Ireland’s economic interest, says IDA chief

1 May 2015

IDA Ireland CEO Martin Shanahan

IDA Ireland CEO Martin Shanahan has said that a Yes vote in the upcoming marriage referendum would be in Ireland’s economic interest, while a No vote would send a negative signal to international businesses.

“Many of our clients are on record on this matter here and in the US, in particular, where obviously the debate also is going on at state level. Overwhelmingly I think large multinationals in the US have come out in favour of same-sex marriage,” Shanahan said in an interview with The Irish Times.

Shanahan said that the upcoming marriage referendum would be one of the few times of the year when international attention will be on Ireland.

He said it was significant that Ireland is the only country that is putting a question on same-sex marriage to a referendum of the people.

“In my view a Yes vote will say that Ireland is open, inclusive and welcomes diversity and that would be a very positive message to be sending internationally and I think it is what, internationally, people believe,” Shanahan said.

Shanahan’s comments come just weeks after 150 leaders from the worlds of tech, business and politics came together on 16 April for a Business for Yes event organised by the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) to explain why a Yes vote in the upcoming marriage referendum is essential for Ireland’s tech business future.

“Civil marriage equality will further promote Ireland as a leading place to work and do business,” Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD said at the event.

Tech world’s attention is on LGBT rights

Ireland’s same-sex marriage referendum occurs in the shadow of tumultuous events in the US, where leaders of the biggest tech companies, including Apple CEO Tim Cook, who is openly gay, expressed outrage at the growing trend of new laws in various states in the US that discriminate against LGBT people.

In March, the state of Indiana enacted a controversial law that would allow merchants to refuse to serve a gay person if they disagree with their sexual orientation if they cite religious grounds.

In response, some 54 of Silicon Valley’s most senior leaders signed a joint statement US tech leaders vow no tech jobs for States with anti-LGBT laws.

“Men and women have fought and died fighting to protect our country’s founding principles of freedom and equality,” said Cook in a recent op-ed in The Washington Post. “We owe it to them, to each other and to our future to continue to fight with our words and our actions to make sure we protect those ideals.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years