Probus Dún Laoghaire Marine
Talks's Reports
Hon. Secretary Notes (An Overview of European Politics)
Published on 18/02/2019

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Frank Sheridan (President), John Bolton, (Vice – President), Paddy MacManus (Treasurer), Myles Duffy (immediate Past President),Raymond Burke, John O’ Neill, John Ryan (Hon. Secretary).

Apologies –

Kevin O’ Malley

Donal Denham

Robin Hamilton


The President welcomed all members to the 7th Meeting of Probus in 2019.

The President introduced the speaker this morning, John Bolton (Vice- President of Probus). John had joined Probus following his retirement from the Industrial Development Authority where he had a career spanning 34 years. Prior to working with the IDA John had worked as a production manager with Phillips.

John holds a in physics from U.C.D and an also in physics from T.C.D.

During his career he had two tours of duty in the USA and was also based in Germany.

In the US John was based on the West Coast where on his first tour of duty he managed to combine the arduous duties of the agency with securing an M.B.A. degree at the University of California at Los Angeles.

On his second tour of duty in the US west coast, John had responsibility for the whole IDA operation. During that time John worked with Google, E-Bay, Amazon and Intel all these companies became substantial investors and employers in Ireland. The decisions of these international corporations to invest in the state was primarily due to the efforts of John Bolton and his IDA colleagues.

The President stated that he recalled attending a seminar on foreign direct investment organised by the Conrad Adenhaur foundation in Munich. At that conference a representative of the US Marshall plan openly queried in some frustration and

incredulity, how it was possible for a small country like Ireland to attract more US investment than China or India combined. It is important to note that this success was achieved not only in the face of the not inconsiderable task of persuading target companies to direct their expansion plans to Ireland but also in the face of strong competition from the promotional agencies of other countries. In relation to that success it should be noted that areas like the Silicon Valley which fell under John’s jurisdiction played a central role.

The President pointed to the significance of the IDAs work and said that it was appropriate that John and his IDA collegues should share some reflected glory from this. It is best captured by a few statistical facts, foreign direct investment accounts for a 175, 000 direct jobs in Ireland and 125,000 indirect jobs as well as for 125billion of exports.

On another assignment in the 1990’s John was located in Germany where he played a similar role of the promotion and sustaining of foreign and direct investment. As part of that and indeed his other engagements as an IDA representative he had to hold up a mirror to the dynamics which drive the economy and political administrations of the countries where the IDA is located as any change in the terms of trade can have an adverse effect on investment or conversely provide new opportunities. Here John has a distinct advantage notwithstanding his studies and interest in science he is by nature a student of history and political biography, always investigating the historical background and social drivers in a host country and that is an interest that has grown over his life.

John monitors closely developments across Europe and during any year, frequently visits countries in Europe.

In his presentation John will focus on Northern Europe including Germany, Austria and Sweden, Eastern Europe Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic Southern Europe Italy, Spain and France, he will outline how the old order had been upset by the winds of change blowing across the continent.