Ireland says gay marriage good for business

Thu May 21, 2015 12:08pm EDT
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By Padraic Halpin

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Gay marriage can help attract foreign investment, the Irish government said on Thursday ahead of a referendum on the issue that has been publicly backed by global technology giants including Google (GOOGL.O: Quote), Ebay (EBAY.O: Quote) and Twitter (TWTR.N: Quote).

When Ireland began to attract U.S. firms with tax breaks in the 1960s, the government was still using the country's traditional, Catholic image to attract Irish American visitors.

Five decades later it is putting its faith in a more secular, multicultural image it hopes the Irish electorate will bolster by voting in favor of gay marriage in a national referendum on Friday.

Polls have indicated it will be passed by a margin of as much as two-to-one.

"I have no doubt that a 'Yes' vote would be helpful for Ireland and helpful for businesses to grow," jobs minister Richard Bruton told reporters on Thursday at the Dublin offices of Utah-based technology firm Qualtrics.

Qualtrics is the latest in a long list of U.S technology firms to set up European headquarters in the capital, creating 100 jobs. U.S. employers account for one in 10 jobs in Ireland, attracted by a low 12.5 percent corporate tax rate.

"It would be good for Ireland, we are now a very vibrant, multicultural society, we are generous, we support equality," he said.

Prime Minister Enda Kenny and the head of the state body charged with attracting investment into Ireland have both said a 'No' vote would send a very negative message abroad.   Continued...

A Gay Pride flag displayed in a shop window in central Dublin in Ireland May 21, 2015. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton