President's comment - April 2020

Apr 01, 2020
At the time of writing, efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus are undoubtedly the focus of attention for society and business across the island. This is a very serious and fast-evolving situation, and Chartered Accountants Ireland will adhere to the official advice provided by our respective health services and governments. The safety and health of our members, students and staff are paramount, and that principle guides the decisions taken.

The Institute is reviewing its programme of activities in respect of members, students and external stakeholders. We will be in contact with everyone concerned to advise them of all decisions made.

I would like to take this opportunity to commend businesses across the island for their responsible attitude to their employees and customers in following official guidelines. Such decisive action will, we hope, effectively curtail the spread of the virus.

Paschal Donohoe T.D.

At the start of March, we were honoured to host Minister for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe T.D., who addressed an invited audience of Institute members and guests.

Inevitably, coronavirus featured prominently with the Minister predicting that the Irish economy would be impacted by the global slowdown associated with the outbreak. He said: “Many, including the OECD, outline that this outbreak has the potential to slow global growth to its lowest rate since the financial crisis just over a decade ago. To what extent, it is too early to say, but it follows that weaker growth will affect our short-term outlook and my department will update its projects in April”.

Turning to Brexit, the Minister argued that while the post-Brexit world will present significant challenges, if managed correctly, Ireland’s reputation as an open, adaptable yet stable economy also presents opportunities. 

Engagement with US members and politicians

At the time of writing, the Institute’s Director of Advocacy & Voice, Dr Brian Keegan, and myself are currently meeting with members and politicians in the USA.

The programme has involved meetings in New York with Northern Ireland Economy Minister, Diane Dodds, and Consul General of Ireland, Ciarán Madden, before moving on to Washington DC for various events including the Irish Business Leaders’ Lunch, the Irish Funds dinner and the NI Bureau breakfast.

Throughout the visit, we have had a very warm welcome from members based in the US and some really useful engagement with political representatives from both sides of the Atlantic.

Institute signs climate change pledge

In February, our Institute announced that it is one of 14 accounting bodies worldwide to become signatories to a call to action on climate change issued by Accounting for Sustainability (A4S).

The memorandum of understanding signed by Chartered Accountants Ireland states that signatories will commit to providing the training and infrastructure that accountants need, as well as supporting initiatives and providing the necessary evidence to take action on climate change.

In signing the memorandum, Chartered Accountants Ireland recognises that climate change is an economic, social and business risk and that accountants must take action collectively as a profession and individually as professionals working in the public interest.

The 14 accounting bodies signed up to the agreement represent a total of 2.5 million accountants and students worldwide.

Annual Dinner

Finally, this is my first comment section since our Annual Dinner at the end of January. I would like to record my thanks to the 900 guests who supported the event; to our event partners Dublin Airport, Bank of Ireland, PeopleSource and Toyota; to our special guest, Lochlann Quinn FCA; and, most particularly, to the many corporates who supported the event by hosting tables. For me, it was another great demonstration of how Chartered Accountants are at the heart of our economy, driving Irish business.

Conall O’Halloran