Sean Fitzpatrick, Non-Executive Chairman of Anglo Irish Bank and director of Experian, the global information solutions company, has called for Irish entrepreneurs to be celebrated and lauded for their achievements and an end to the "corporate McCarthyism" which the current regulatory regime is coming close to resembling.
Fitzpatrick was speaking at Experian’s annual business lunch today at the Berkeley Court Hotel.
Fitzpatrick said that Ireland’s current economic success was almost entirely due to the country’s entrepreneurs and had little to do with politicians. "You can’t keep good people down forever", he said. "Look around the world and you’ll find Irish emigrant stock at the very top of social, civic, commercial and political life. What happened over the past ten years or so was that this potential was unleashed at home here in Ireland rather than overseas. The Irish economy began to benefit from the innate business sense and entrepreneurship of its people.
"All the politicians did was stand aside and let it happen", Sean Fitzpatrick added. "After years of meddling they finally stood aside and allowed the people to get on with it. Taxes were cut and the economy was allowed to open up and the effect was like putting a flower out in the sun. The economy blossomed."
However, he warned that politicians and regulation may now be about to stifle growth once more. "Having developed this marvellous entrepreneurial culture which is delivering so many benefits in terms of employment and wealth to the country we must ask ourselves if there is now a danger that our regulatory environment has gone too far?", he asked. "Are we starting to shackle instead of encourage the entrepreneurs who in turn generate more wealth not just for themselves, but for the country as a whole."
Stating that we may have reached a situation where the weight of compliance with the various financial reporting standards and other corporate regulations is now so heavy that entrepreneurs are no longer willing to bear it, Fitzpatrick said: "Among the more insidious and I believe iniquitous aspects of the current regulatory environment is its apparent presumption of guilt on the part of entrepreneurs and businesspeople generally. The whole structure seems to be geared towards an annual proof of innocence statement. This is corporate McCarthyism and we shouldn’t tolerate it."
He said that we should be proud of our successful business people and not pillory them. "It is time to shout stop. The tide of regulation has gone far enough. We should be proud of our success, not suspicious of it. Our wealth creators should be rewarded and admired not subjected to levels of scrutiny which convicted criminals would rightly find intrusive."