'The business world waits for no one' - Cowen urges Government to act on DII warning

Published on: 20 May 2024

Barry Cowen TD, the Fianna Fáil European Election candidate in the Midlands North West, has urged the Government to act on a warning from Digital Infrastructure Ireland (DII).


Deputy Cowen insists issues surrounding data centres must be resolved or major investors will look elsewhere after DII warned Ireland at risk of missing out on economic benefits from next generation technologies.


Deputy Cowen said: "I have been calling for the past year for a solution to be found to the data centre logjam at Government. The State needs to heed the warning from Digital Infrastructure Ireland that Ireland is damaging its enterprise brand by not seeking to resolve the bans on data centres.  


“The risk for Ireland is that a major investor into renewables, the digital industry - our largest and still growing sector - will invest in wind, solar and other energy sources in other countries rather than in Ireland.  It is ironic that it is other EU countries, that are the beneficiaries of Ireland’s dithering on it. Microsoft, Google and Amazon are being welcomed in other European countries (Germany, Spain, France, Denmark, Belgium, etc) when they are all tied to the same EU climate commitments we are.


“The business world waits for no one, and it is fanciful to think that once Ireland eventually finds a solution, the industry will still be waiting. This is not real. A whooshing sound is already developing which is digital money bypassing Ireland for good.  


“Attached is a list of the billions being invested in the EU and elsewhere for just the last few months.  Investments are bypassing Ireland because the Government is failing to find a solution to this challenge.”


“Ireland has been good at finding solutions to challenges over the years, from social partnership to economic dialogues. The Government needs to bring all the players around the same table and the megaphones of Minister Ryan need to be silenced on data centres. The Government has a policy on data centres but that has been usurped by Minister Ryan and the Greens," Deputy Cowen added.


“Minister Burke and Taoiseach Harris need to use their new roles in Government to resolve this matter as soon as possible. Other countries in Europe, with the same climate goals, are falling over themselves to get these digital investments that Ireland is turning away. There is a disconnect in digital policy and Government needs to say who authorised the turning away of major data centre investors.”


“As the IDA and others have pointed out, the ban on data centres is not a good look for Ireland in the competitive global world of enterprise investments. We should not forget where we have come from. Success has been hard won and we should not give it away.  


“Exports of computer services from Ireland have grown from €32bn in 2012 to more than €196bn now. While many sectors are contracting, data and digital is still growing by up to 40% a year. Failing to find solutions to problems that are solvable is a huge risk to our economy and the problem needs to be looked at more widely than just energy where Minister Ryan has framed it,” Deputy Cowen added.