January – February
Ireland kicked off the centenary year of the Easter Rising in 1916 with speculation as to when the Taoiseach would call the General Election for 2016. As most the country succumbed to flooding the Taoiseach finally dissolved the Dáil on the 3rd of February and announced February 26th as the date the country would go to the polls.
IPSA presented its first Election Manifesto in many years to its members, the outgoing government and those running for election. In it we asked for reform and improvement of existing legislation in relation to share ownership and share remuneration, for government to engage and incentivise share ownership across all sectors of the economy and to use reformed, improved, engaging and incentivised legislation to grow the economy by attracting & retaining the best companies and the best talent to Ireland with employee share ownership.
March – April
As we know these months were spent in a political limbo with no government or Taoiseach in place. However, at IPSA we were very sure about our direction as March saw the end of one financial year and the completion of term of co-chair of the IPSA by Keavy Ryan from A&L Goodbody. Keavy had during her period as co-chair with Niall Kavanagh, completed a total review and revision of the governance structures for the IPSA, while meeting her additional voluntary duties a chair of the IPSA Advocacy Committee and as a partner in A&L. Keavy was instrumental in meeting and informing several senior civil servants in the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation during her time as chair. She set the bar high for her successor.
Nigel Derrick was formally elected to the vice-chair position of the IPSA at our Annual General Meeting in mid-April. Nigel will take over the chair position from Niall Kavanagh at our AGM in April 2017.
May saw the formation of a government, the Taoiseach returned and the launch by Government of a public consultation process on the tax treatment of share based remuneration in Ireland. This followed on from a commitment made by the Government earlier in May to explore the mechanisms through which SMEs can reward key employees with share options in a tax efficient manner and a review by the Department of Finance on Tax and Entrepreneurship in 2015. We at IPSA were excited by the call for submissions as we had been working on this behind the scenes with both the Departments of Finance and Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation since early 2015. The consultation process was the first step on the road.
June – July
All through June, IPSA council worked to prepare our submission resulting from the Government’s consultation call in May. Our research, workings, and cost/benefit calculations were presented to the Department of Finance in early July.
Later in July we also submitted our Pre-Budget Submission to the Department of Finance – which can also be downloaded from here.
June also saw the IPSA Annual Lunch take place. It was held in the Morrison Hotel in Dublin the first week of June. Our keynote address was from Dr Tony Bates, the Founding Director of Headstrong – The National Centre for Youth Mental Health, in Ireland. Tony founded Headstrong in 2006 to work on designing, evaluating and refining a large-scale initiative to improve mental health outcomes for young people called Jigsaw. Tony was an inspiration to all who gathered for the afternoon.
Following several months of productive discussion IPSA and the Global Equity Organisation’s (GEO) Dublin Chapter held their first joint seminar in the offices of A&L Goodbody in Dublin on the 21st September. A speaker from the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions – Stavroula Demetriades, and a speaker from INTEL Ireland – Matt O’Donnell told an audience of almost forty attendees the power of employee share ownership from not only an Irish and European perspective but also from a global perspective.
Later that month IPSA CEO Gill Brennan attended Proshare UK’s annual conference in London on the invitation of Proshare UK’s CEO Gabbi Stopp. Gill took the opportunity to meet with UK companies operating in Ireland and introducing them to the work that ISPA do here in Ireland, as well as meeting further with the Chief Executive of the Global Equity Organisation, Danyle Anderson, to discuss the establishment of stronger working links with GEO to drive the employee share ownership and employee ownership objectives of IPSA here at home.
October is Budget month in Ireland and we were hopeful that government would take on board some of our recommendations supported with costing from our consultation paper submission in July this year. However, we were disappointed to learn of the Minister for Finance’s decision to not increase the cap on Entrepreneur Relief above €1m, but there was some joy that he did reduce the CGT for entrepreneur’s selling their businesses from 20% to 10%. There is still much wrong with this legislation that hampers Ireland competing with the UK for entrepreneurs to set up here. But this is something we will continue to work on over the course of 2017.
Also while the Minister did not do anything in this Budget in relation to share based remuneration for SME employees, he did state that this would be looked at in greater detail in 2017 and this is something that we at IPSA are very keen to assist the Department of Finance and the Department og Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation with over the course of the coming new year.
This month saw the IPSA Annual Conference take place in the Morrison Hotel in Dublin. This year’s conference had great speakers in from the US, the UK, Europe and Ireland to tell the almost 100 delegates in attendance about employee share ownership and employee ownership from around the world. Keynote speakers included Arend Welmers from the Great Game of Business in the UK, Dallen Guzinski, the director of culture from the National Centre for Employee Ownership in the US, Professor Virginie Perotin from the University of Leeds Business School and Eugene Murphy who was instrumental in setting up the Bord Gais ESOT. The conference was one of the best in recent years, setting the bar very high for our conference in 2017!
November saw the return of the annual Jack Fitzpatrick Lecture. Jack set up the Irish Profit-Sharing Association back in the early 1970’s and over the past number of years the now named IPSA has held a lecture in his honour. This year we were delighted to have a great advocate of employee ownership as our keynote speaker, Dr. David Erdal. David flew in from Edinburgh to be with us and to tell his story of how he became an advocate of employee ownership, why he gave his family business to his employees and how he worked following this transition to help other businesses all over the world transition from the traditional business model to the employee ownership model. In attendance were representatives from Dublin Chamber of Commerce, large multinationals and interested SMEs, giving IPSA even greater impetus to push for policy to better support employee ownership in 2017.
IPSA is wrapping up the year with a strategic review of its policy direction for 2017. We are going all out in the coming year to work with Government to develop a competitive structure for Entrepreneur Relief here in Ireland. We also want to work with Government on Enterprise Management Incentives, Employee Share Based Remuneration, Employee Ownership of businesses and other elements of Employee Financial Involvement in Irish businesses. We at IPSA believe that creating these tools to better enable employee involvement in Irish businesses will better arm and insulate the Irish economy from the effects of Brexit, the Trump Presidency and the uncertainty within the EU. Right now the Irish economy needs every device and implement at its disposal to strengthen and defend itself. We at IPSA, the Council, CEO and our members are ready to do our part.