Friday, June 21, 2024

Ireland risks losing out on investment in tech sector, State agencies warn

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Ireland risks losing out on investment and development in the high-tech sector unless the Government introduces legislation which will allow gardaí provide security clearance to key workers in the industry.

The IDA and Enterprise Ireland are urging the Government to expand the existing system for providing security clearances which at present apply mainly to those working with children or vulnerable people.

Both agencies have warned Ireland is one of only two countries in the EU to be without such broader security clearance legislation.

IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland, the State agencies which have responsibility for supporting domestic and international businesses in Ireland, warned the absence of such a system was putting at risk the development of important economic and industrial sectors.

It is understood both have told the Government that the absence of such a security clearance system is hindering the ability of companies based in Ireland to take part in some initiatives funded by the EU.

Such security clearance for key workers is understood to be required by the EU where the personnel would access or generate confidential material.

The employment support agencies argued the current situation in Ireland left the country at a disadvantage compared with others in the EU.

Sources said that in one case a company, in a bid to get around the absence of a system of security clearances here, transferred abroad key staff earmarked for a particular project. It then sought police in the other jurisdiction to try secure confirmation from gardaí in Ireland that the workers concerned did not have criminal records.

Informed sources said the Government was looking at a draft Bill to expand security clearance arrangements but there was a lack of clarity over which government department would take the lead on the issue.

The concerns of the agencies supporting employment development were referred to in briefing documents prepared by officials in the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment for Minister for Enterprise Peter Burke on his appointment several weeks ago.

The briefing material states: “Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland have raised their serious concerns that innovative and high-technology Irish companies have difficulty in competing for international procurement calls owing to the lack of any official procedure for obtaining security clearance, either in respect of personnel, facilities or cybersecurity.”

It is understood discussions are under way between the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, the Department of Justice and the office of the Attorney General on the issue.

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