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Irish Students Suggest Building Skyscrapers Could Attract Foreign Businesses to Ireland Post-Brexit

AUTHOR(S): Michael Jackson
DATE: 04.11.2016

  • Teams of students from across Ireland have been putting together ideas to boost economic growth in Ireland after Brexit as part of law firm Matheson’s Vision 2020 University Challenge competition;
  • Entries included removing height restrictions for high-rise buildings in Dublin and creating certain tax relief schemes for companies linked to corporate social responsibility initiatives and encouraging our Irish abroad home;
  • The winning team members were awarded €1,000 each and a place on the Matheson Summer Internship programme.

Removing height restrictions and allowing the construction of skyscrapers and high-rise buildings in Dublin and other cities could attract foreign businesses to Ireland post-Brexit.

That’s according to Aisling O’Brien, Annie Conlan, Susan Crowley and Shauna Fenton, a 4th Year Trinity College Dublin team that entered Irish law firm Matheson’s Vision 2020 University Challenge. Undergraduate students were asked to consider a legal reform that could help boost Irish economic growth in the wake of Brexit.

Current laws prevent buildings from exceeding 50m, except in designated parts of Dublin centre. For comparison, the tallest commercial building in Dublin is Google’s headquarters, at 67m; London’s Shard is 309m. Commercial and residential space is scarce in the capital, driving up rents; and subsequent urban sprawl pushes businesses and workers further out of the city centre, discouraging growth and investment.

UCD’s Team BGR, Eimear O'Leary, Tara English, Rachael Toland-Burke, proposed the creation of a Business Growth Relief tax scheme, which would classify certain Irish businesses into classes. The students suggested that each class would benefit from certain tax reliefs; businesses would move up a class by meeting certain criteria, like CSR initiatives, number of employees and encouraging Irish expatriates to return home.

The competition was open to all disciplines in all universities across Ireland. A shortlist of five teams included entries from Trinity College Dublin, Maynooth University, National University of Ireland, Galway and University College Dublin.

The shortlisted entries were invited to pitch to a panel of judges at Matheson’s Dublin office this week. Judges included Philip Merrills-Dearn, EMEA Head of Legal at Twitter, Anne-Marie Bohan, Partner at Matheson, Patrick Spicer, Partner at Matheson, Nicola White, Director of Learning & Development. The winning team members were awarded a place on Matheson’s summer internship programme, in addition to a €3,000 first prize fund. The second place winning team members were awarded €500.

Over the last three years, Matheson has significantly increased the number of graduate trainee positions offered, up 85% since 2013.

Commenting on the entries, Michael Jackson, Managing Partner at Matheson, said:

“We were delighted that so many students accepted our invitation to voice their ideas about how Ireland's legal system could adapt to the challenges and opportunities that Brexit presents. We believe that technical excellence, innovation and understanding of business are fundamental to the practice of business law. The standard of submissions received shows that these qualities are strong in this generation of students. Ireland will benefit greatly from listening to their voices, and ensuring that the Irish approach to problem solving continues to be inclusive - and informed by the concerns and views of the generations who will be most impacted.

The winning entry was an example of the ability of today’s students to understand both the important role that tax plays in the growth of our economy and the fact that incentives offered could be linked to social benefits such as community programmes.”

Pictured above: front row (l-r): Aisling O’Brien – Trinity College Dublin; Elaine O’Sullivan – Trinity College Dublin; back row (l-r): Niamh Gallagher – NUI Galway; Anne-Marie Bohan - Partner at Matheson; Iain Telford – Maynooth University, Michael Jackson - Managing Partner at Matheson; Philip Merrills-Dearn - EMEA Head of Legal at Twitter; Tara English - University College Dublin.

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