Seven can be heaven but not when it’s seventh place, and that’s where Dublin found itself in a European Medicines Agency assessment of favoured locations for its staff to move.

Information revealed to RTÉ’s Prime Time shows Dublin ranked 7th as the location of choice in an EMA survey of staff interest in moving to 19 different candidate host cities. The survey showed the Agency would lose nearly half of its staff if it moved to Dublin.

Just over half of EMA staffers said they would stay if it moved to Dublin: 55% said they were ‘likely’ to ‘very likely’ to stay, leaving a 45% staff loss.

Amsterdam headed the list as favoured host city in the staff survey, and went on to win the bid. The vast majority (81%) said they would likely or very likely to move to Amsterdam if the agency did, with Barcelona the next favourite (76%) followed by Vienna (73%), and Milan, Copenhagen and Brussels.

Yesterday (Mon) the Agency announced its decision to relocate to Amsterdam from Canary Wharf, London, because of Brexit.

Ireland also failed to make it into the top five location choices when the EMA combined the staff retention figures with the prospect of business continuity for each of the 19 candidate host cities.

It showed that Dublin fell into a group of cities where staff retention "met requirements" but raised concerns that the agency would be operational on time.

Assessing the impact, the EMA said it should be able to continue essential scientific assessment activities, "but with delays", and "a significant number of public health activities would have to be postponed or suspended to ring-fence resources".

Yesterday the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said that Ireland withdrew its bid for the EMA in order to focus on its bid for the European Banking Authority (EBA). Today, the Department told Prime Time that Ireland formally withdrew its bid on 19 November, two days ago.

In the EMA survey, staff were asked: "Based on your current knowledge of the official Member State offers, and the extent to which they fulfil your (and your family's) needs and expectations to settle in a new location, how likely are you to follow the Agency to the below candidate cities?"

Yesterday’s decision means the EMA will now seek to move its HQ and 900 staff to Amsterdam by the end of March 2019.