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Donald Trump in New Hampshire, August 2015 |© Michael Vadon/Flickr
Donald Trump in New Hampshire, August 2015 |© Michael Vadon/Flickr
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What A Trump White House Might Mean For Dublin's Silicon Docks

Picture of Kate Phelan
Updated: 11 November 2016
Trump’s shock win in 2016’s US presidential election has thrown many geopolitical issues into question, from immigration to the Paris Climate Agreement to the future of NATO. As protests continue in America over deeper questions about what this means for civil rights and religious toleration, we explore what Trump’s transition to the White House might mean for the Irish, in particular the country’s important knowledge economy.

As America and the rest of the free world try to process the idea of having Donal Trump as its future leader, Ireland has ample reason to be worried. According to The Irish Times there are an estimated 50,000 undocumented Irish living in the United States, who like millions of other illegal immigrants were denied a path to citizenship when President Obama’s immigration reform ban was blocked by the deadlocked US Supreme Court earlier this year. These people are now in an even more precarious position, waiting to see if the incoming president will make good on his threats of mass deportation.

White House fountain dyed green for Saint Patrick's Day 2011 | © White House/WikiCommons
White House fountain dyed green for Saint Patrick’s Day 2011 | © White House/WikiCommons

A Trump presidency could also be extremely dangerous for the Irish economy, damage to which was the cause for much of this emigration in the first place. Ireland’s fragile government is still struggling to come to terms with the implications of Brexit, with a complete withdrawal of Britain from Europe’s single market being forecasted to reverse much of the progress Ireland’s economy has been able to make since the financial crash of 2008. Now, Donald Trump’s senior economic advisor has said that one of the new administration’s first priorities will be to encourage the return of ‘a flood’ of multinational companies from Ireland and other countries to America, by slashing their own corporation tax rate.

Until now, Ireland’s unusually low tax rate for businesses has succeeded in attracting major global tech corporations to the country, with the European headquarters of global businesses like Airbnb, Facebook and Google concentrated around the so-called ‘Silicon Docks’ area of Dublin. But after the landmark ruling by the EU this summer ordering Apple to pay €13 billion in additional tax to Ireland, Trump’s win will be another blow to Ireland’s famously open knowledge economy.

Airbnb Dublin. Designed by RKD and Heneghan Peng | © Ethan Hart
Airbnb Dublin. Designed by RKD and Heneghan Peng | © Ethan Hart

Exports, the major source of Ireland’s growth, would drop significantly with the departure of multinationals, tech and pharmaceutical companies in particular. Their leaving would severely damage the economic recovery that has been dubbed the ‘Celtic phoenix’ by The Economist, a rebound already failing to translate into the lives of everyday Irish citizens in a meaningful way. Levels of homelessness are at record highs in Ireland – an average of 81 families becoming homeless every month – and youth unemployment in October 2016 was 15.9 per cent. According to the National Women’s Council of Ireland, the pay gap between women and men also widened during the austerity period.