Things took a turn for the awkward yesterday on CNBC’s business and finance show “Squawk Box” when the hosts appeared unclear as to whether Ireland is part of the UK.
Martin Shanahan, the head of IDA Ireland, the Irish agency responsible for foreign direct investment in Ireland, appeared on the show to talk about why Ireland is one of the best places in the world to do business.
After answering some more expected questions from the show’s three hosts – Joe Kernen, Rebecca Quick and Andrew Ross Sorkin, about corporate tax, development incentives and Ireland’s appeal, Shanahan appeared at a loss for words when Kernen, a former stockbroker, assumed that Ireland was still using the British pound sterling as its currency.
It all went downhill from there as the fact that Ireland is separate from the UK appeared to be “just too confusing” for the TV host.
Take a look and be prepared to cringe.
This is how the conversation devolved into silliness:
Joe Kernen: How does the tax policy turn out such a string of great golfers - Graham, Rory, Padraig...is it the tax, is this another tax, how does the tax affect the...it is a small place to have so many good golfers?
Martin Shanahan: It is the environment actually that is probably doing that. It is a pretty good place to live and visit and everything else.
Rebecca Quick: What has the weaker euro meant in terms of tourism?
Shanahan: So, I think, em, Ireland is a very globalized economy so we look to what is happening here as much as we do to what is happening in Europe and we look to what is happening in...
Kernen: You have pounds anyway don’t you still?
Shanahan: We have euros
Kernen: You have euros in Ireland ?
Kernen: Why do you have euros in Ireland?
Shanahan: Why wouldn’t we have euros in Ireland?
Quick: They’re part of the EU
Kernen: Huh? I’d use the pound…
Shanahan: No, we’ve had the euro for some time and we’re very happy with it.
Kernen: What about Scotland I was using Scottish…uh…
Shanahan: …Scottish pounds. They use Sterling.
Kernen: They use Sterling?
Shanahan: They use Sterling. But we use euro.
Kernen: What!? Why would you do that?
Shanahan: Why wouldn’t we do that?
Kernen: Why didn’t Scotland? No wonder they wanted to break away…
Shanahan: They’re part of the UK. We’re not.
Kernen: Aren’t you right next to, uh?
Shanahan: We’re very close, but entirely separate as you know.
Kernen: Sort of the same island, isn’t it?
Shanahan: In the north of Ireland they have Sterling -
Kernen: THEY DO!? [mutters]
Shanahan: Yeah. But we use Euro.
Kernen: It’s just too confusing…
Shanahan continued to handle the conversation like a true professional, even after Kernan exclaimed, “Oh man! You guys have got to get it together,” and brought the conversation back to golf, something the confused host was clearly more comfortable discussing.