Record levels of investment in Ireland since the signing of The Belfast Agreement ‘simply would not have occurred’ without peace

Ibec warns however that the North has ‘still to realise the full potential’ of the peace dividend with ‘much to be done’ to deliver prosperity post-Brexit

Record levels of investment experienced in Ireland since the signing of The Belfast Agreement “simply would not have occurred” without peace, according to a group representing Irish employers.

Ibec warns however that the North has “still to realise the full potential” of the peace dividend with “much to be done” to deliver prosperity post-Brexit.

Despite a drop in emigration over the past two decades, a “brain drain” remains with 17,000 students leaving Northern Ireland each year to study in Britain; only a third of graduates return home immediately after graduating.

A further 2,000 Northerners move to the Republic to take up university places.


In a report published by Ibec today examining the economic and social benefits of the landmark peace deal as it approaches its 25th anniversary, they say there is “more to do” to tackle the migration issue:

“Peace is a crucial ingredient of certainty from a business perspective where increasingly the future of economic growth is tied to skilled and talented people wanting to live and work in a given location.”

The report says that while the immediate benefits of the peace process are substantial in terms of the reduction of violence and impact on people’s day-to-day lives, “what are less appreciated are the implications these had for prosperity on the island.”

Investment in high-tech technology jobs is singled out, with the sector growing “as fast as London and far outpacing other UK regions and Europe as a whole”.

“Substantial growth” in Irish whiskey exports – the industry is referred to as the “embodiment of our shared economy” with over 40 distilleries – are now worth more than £1 billion.

“Feedback from Ibec members is clear that the peace process helped allay fears and made major investments more attractive to global decision makers,” according to the report.

The removal of the border also had a “positive and significant impact” on trade volumes - between 1996 and 2000, cross-border trade in both directions soared by almost 60%. Post-Brexit, it has almost tripled to €9.5 billion.

Ibec highlights the success of the dairy industry – it operates as a single entity on the island and has a value approaching €16 billion – and says its free movement of milk, product and staff “has been underpinned by the (agreement) for the last 25 years”.

Speaking at the launch of the For Peace and Prosperity report, Ibec CEO Danny McCoy said: “Since 1998, we have experienced record levels of investment right across the island of Ireland and Britain.

“This would simply not have occurred in such magnitude in the absence of peace supporting stability. Such investment has delivered a prosperity that has seen millions of jobs created, hundreds of thousands of new businesses flourish, investment in formerly forgotten communities pour in, all of which has significantly enhanced overall living standards and quality of life for all.

“While this anniversary offers opportunity to mark the prosperity achievements of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, it also affords a timely opportunity for reflection and acknowledgement that we cannot afford complacency. While much progress has been made, there remains much to be done to deliver full prosperity from the peace dividend. This is made even more significant in the post-Brexit landscape we find ourselves in.”

Seanín Graham

Seanín Graham

Seanín Graham is Northern Correspondent of The Irish Times