Ireland's future prosperity and its continued ability to secure major U.S. investment will depend on it committing itself to the European Union and to the new budget-discipline treaty, the president of the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland Peter O'Neill told a gathering of executives on Friday.
O'Neill, who is general manager of International Business Machines Corporation in Ireland, told a gathering of top flight executives that Ireland, despite its small population, accounts for one sixth of all total investments made by U.S. firms in Europe.
"It is essential to ensure that the confidence of business in Europe, and of Ireland's role within it does not waiver," O'Neill said in a report that ran on Nasdaq.com. "As a country, Ireland has to make important strategic judgements about what its interests are and where they lie. The American Chamber is convinced that Ireland's strategic interest lies in being at the heart of the European project."
Currently the Irish government is awaiting advice from its senior law officer as to whether or not it should put the EU's fiscal treaty to a public referendum.
In the event of the government losing, such a vote would call into question Ireland's continued participation in the euro zone.
Irish voters could use the referendum to oppose the austerity measures required under the bailout program agreed to with the EU, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank over a year ago.
Meanwhile O'Neill told the gather that U.S. firms had been impressed by the commitment of the Irish government to maintaining the country's 12.5% corporation tax rate.
Ireland is also hoping the strength of its export industry will help get it out of the bailout program. Signs that export growth will slow this year due to the euro debt crisis have not unduly alarmed analysts.