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New business network launched to foster Rock’s Irish links

Pic by Eyleen Gomez

A Gibraltar Irish Business Network has been set up on the Rock with the intention of supporting networking and business opportunities for professionals in Gibraltar with an Irish connection.

To kick off its launch, an event will be held in O’Reilly’s on St Patrick’s Day to give people an opportunity to learn more about the network and also meet with Irish individuals.

“If we go back a little bit to when we started to think of the concept of the network, we realised in more recent years there has been an influx of Irish people to Gibraltar, predominantly in gaming,” said Seamus Hayes one of the founders.

“So you will have folks that have left Ireland directly from university or from school in some cases or have continued to build a middle management or upper management type of roles within gaming or financial services sectors.”

“And, I guess as the numbers of those people have increased over the years, we have also seen those people develop and a lot who have stayed have built a home in Gibraltar or surrounding areas. And have also developed in their careers as well up through the ranks.”

“Through that we recognised that there was a little bit of a gap whereby it would be really good to have a support network for those people when they come over but also a support network for the fostering of those individuals as well as they progress or give them opportunities to progress.”

“Intrinsically linked into that is the fact there are so many ties between businesses in Gibraltar and businesses in Ireland or businesses in Gibraltar where services aren’t available but there are services available in Ireland where there could be maximum opportunities associated with that.”

One clear example of that is global law firm Ince, who are sponsoring the launch of the network, based in the World Trade Centre and with Irish links via staff and business conducted.

“So, in very simple terms there are loads of Irish professionals over here now and we just wanted to have a network to support their career progression but also potentially building some business opportunities between Gibraltar and Ireland,” he added.

Another founding member, Andrew Tait, is a lawyer in Gibraltar who also worked within the gaming industry prior to joining the law firm. He notes that he sees the gaming industry on the Rock benefitting from Irish employees coming to Gibraltar.

“There is a rich talent pool in Ireland and the fact that they have EU passports would make life easier when crossing the border to Spain,” said Mr Tait.

“And, also you have a place like Boyle Sports who have an Irish based headquarters. So I can see that as a potential growth area and we want to attract well-trained, well-educated Irish people to come here.”

“Gibraltar is a destination that many people know in Ireland about regarding the benefits it brings, but we definitely sell it as an opportunity for those people and I think that would help the gaming industry to grow and develop.”

“Because there is always a shortage of key people and now with the effects of Brexit and knowing it would be easier for those people to come here and not worry so much about having their passports checked every day is one thing.”

“I also think that there are changes in the gaming industry. There is a new gaming act coming in this year which will make some of the previous requirements less onerous in terms of infrastructure and technical [requirements].”

“So there is a possibility of a link between Gibraltar and Ireland in terms of technology bases, where you can have some of your services based in Ireland and use that as a European centre.”

Dublin, he noted, is also known as a great IT centre with some of the bigger companies based there.

The members of the network have been in talks with different companies in Ireland about Gibraltar they believe there is room to develop business relationships between the two places.

“We have a few ideas, we just need to flesh them out and develop them a bit more,” said Mr Tait.

The core group involved with the network so far have gaming or financial services backgrounds and as a result this is the building block they are starting with. However, they are open to other sectors.

“We may go into the tourism sector, education and other fields,” said Mr Hayes.

“But linked around what Andrew said and gaming and attracting people to come over there is a gap in the market as well for qualified accountants.”

“Whereby it is really difficult to get good quality accountants in Gibraltar even if they are just newly qualified to get them into audit firms etc. So we feel that there is probably an opportunity to get the name out about Gibraltar in that field.”

The team believe that Ireland’s ability to attract multinationals, the advanced educational backgrounds and how advanced it is from a tech perspective means there is a link between Gibraltar and recent move to introduce the DLT environment.

“Gibraltar is becoming quite advanced in that sector and we think there could be links with Ireland in that regard,” said Mr Hayes.

He also pointed out that organisations or service providers have already done business with entities in Gibraltar.

“To give a real simple example, when Covid kicked off the Government of Gibraltar sourced their Covid tracing app from Ireland,” he said.

“My understanding is that they were able to source a relatively low cost fit for purpose app, say whatever you want in hindsight, but most if not all countries developed some sort of app on Covid tracing.”

“Gibraltar historically would have reached out to the UK but it was interesting to see the movement into the tech centre of Ireland to source.”

The two men also recall the links Ireland and Gibraltar have had over the years including its historical ties with Loreto nuns, Christian Brothers, the WW2 evacuees to Northern Ireland, noting too that “there is even a street called Irish Town”.

To attend the networking event in O’Reilly’s on March 17 email you can also follow the network on Linkedin at Gibraltar Irish Business Network.

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