A Louth TD who secured almost €15 million for a new GAA stadium by selling Irish residency to international millionaires has said it is a win-win for everybody.
This morning, Newstalk revealed that more than 1,400 international millionaires have bought Irish residency in the past ten years.
They have done so through the Government's Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP), which was set up in 2012.
To apply, candidates must have a net worth of more than €2 million and up to now, more than €1 billion has been invested in Ireland through the scheme.
Immigrant Investor Programme
Louth TD and County Board Chairman Peter Fitzpatrick told Newstalk he has been actively searching for people to take advantage of the scheme – employing an agent in Dundalk to identify potential candidates.
So far, he has convinced a total of 37 people to invest nearly €15m in funding for a new GAA stadium in Dundalk in exchange for the residency.
He said the investors are only granted temporary residency.
“What they actually get from it is residential status for two years,” he said. “After two years, they can apply again to get an extension for three years.
“There is no such thing as passports of citizenship or anything like that.”
Deputy Fitzpatrick said one of the advantages for the investors is the ability to send their children to Irish colleges while they hold the residency.
He noted that anyone looking to participate in the scheme is heavily vetted by the Government and people without clean records are rejected.
“The way we are looking at it, it is being encouraged by the Department of Justice,” he said.
“It is inward investment and as far as I’m concerned, if you look at the €20m we are going to spend eventually on our field in Dundalk, think about the amount of local people who will get jobs and how it will benefit the local economy.”
He said Ireland is not the only country in the EU running an immigrant investor programme, insisting, “if we don’t do it someone else is going to do it”.
“It is all above board and it’s all vetted,” he said. “They’re not going to be gangsters; they’re not going to be laundering money.
“I personally think it’s win-win for everybody.”
Under the scheme, there are four ways international millionaires can invest.
They can put a minimum of €1 million in an Irish enterprise or an approved investment fund for a period of at least three years.
They can invest at least €2 million in an Irish Real Estate Investment Trust that is listed on the Irish Stock Exchange, again for a period of at least three years.
Alternatively, they can make a philanthropic donation of at least €500,000 to a project which is "of public benefit to the arts, sports, health, culture or education".
While most applicants to date have been Chinese nationals, requests have also been granted to 25 Americans.
Nine people from Vietnam, five Saudis and four South Africans have also been approved.
Reporting from Sean Defoe and Michael Staines