Michael Dell: Founder, CEO, Republican

Thursday 08 January 2009 16.20
Michael Dell - Donated more than $780,000 to US Republicans - Photo: Joi Ito
Michael Dell - Donated more than $780,000 to US Republicans - Photo: Joi Ito

Editor's note: This feature was updated with new information regarding the Dell layoffs

Following the announcement of 1,900 layoffs at the Dell Computer plant, the 43-year-old Texan who founded the company is expected to address workers via a video link from the US.

Michael Dell, the world's 11th richest man (with a net worth of €17.3bn and rising) according to Forbes Magazine, became the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company in 1992.

However Dell jobs first arrived in Ireland two years earlier in 1990.

Many of those jobs are now headed to Lodz in Poland where the cost of labour is low and the corporate tax rate even lower.

The Government and Michael Dell have had a good relationship (he even received an honourary degree from the University of Limerick), but his cost-cutting move today is a blow to the Mid-West.

While Dell employed more than 4,500 staff in Ireland in the past, just 1,100 will be left after these cuts.

A number of politicians, including Limerick TD Willie O'Dea, tried negotiating with Dell to save the jobs, but to no avail.

Before the official announcement, Jan O’Sullivan, Labour Party TD in Limerick, said: 'It would have a devastating effect on the local economy. There are a number of other companies, ancillary to Dell, either feeding directly into Dell or otherwise, or in production, packaging, transports and shops.'

Mr Dell, along with his wife Susan, started a foundation that offers grants for children living in urban poverty. Such a grant might come in handy if the impact of these massive layoffs reach Limerick's poorest communities (click here to find out how to apply for the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation grants).

These cuts do not come as a surprise to some, who have long criticised his connections to US Republicans.

The campaign financing monitoring website Newsmeat reports Michael Dell has donated more than $780,000 (€575k) to Republican candidates or committees, including $7,000 to fellow Texan George W Bush. He donated just $19,800 to Democrats.

The Bush administration is well-known for its hostility towards unions and workers' rights - and its support for globalisation and low corporate tax rates.

Click here for a complete list of political contributions made by Michael Dell