IDA Ireland has told the Oireachtas Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment that it has sight of a healthy pipeline of investments for the first half of next year but that it will be slightly weaker than this year.

The agency is appearing before the committee, along with Technology Ireland, to discuss challenges facing the technology sector.

"Notwithstanding the current challenges and uncertainty in the global environment, IDA client companies are generally optimistic on the prospects for their businesses, and we have sight of a healthy pipeline for the first half of 2023, albeit slightly weaker than in H1 2022," the interim CEO of IDA Ireland Mary Buckley said.

"When layoffs occur, as we have seen with some high-profile global technology companies in recent weeks, our first concern is with those who are losing their jobs," Ms Buckley said.

"Working with colleagues across the Government system and with our large portfolio of multinational companies, IDA will do all we can to match these employees to the extensive employment opportunities that still exist across the economy," she added.

TDs and Senators were also told that the IDA is actively engaged with its technology client base and is providing regular updates to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

"The companies that have announced job losses will continue to operate in Ireland, many of them at a considerable scale," according to the IDA.

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Technology Ireland, the Ibec body that represents the tech industry, told the committee that the sector will continue to grow in Ireland in 2023 but at a lower level than it has over the last two years.

"While the news of recent weeks regarding redundancies in a small number of companies is disappointing and deeply upsetting for the individuals impacted there remains a high demand for tech talent in this country, in particular in our indigenous tech companies who found it challenging to hire at pace over the last two years," according to the opening statement of Una Fitzpatrick, Director of Technology Ireland.

Meanwhile, the persistant lack of women being recruited into IT continues to be concern, an Oireachtas committee has heard.

Oonagh Fitzpatrick, Director of Technology Ireland, noted that recruiting females into the sector remains a challenge, and while Ireland is above the EU average, that figure is itself "very low".

The numbers of women studying IT remains low, and "the pipeline is definitely a concern", she told the Oireachtas Enterprise Committee.

Ms Fitzpatrick also said that accommodation is a problem for the employers Technology Ireland represents, and that this extends well beyond the capital.

She pointed to the concentration of IT companies in Donegal, where there is a lack of apartments to rent, and added that any housing programme needs to deliver accommodation which suits IT workers, which often is not a three bed semi-detached house.

Tommy Fanning, Head of Strategic Policy at the IDA, said that the lack of housing "is a major problem" for employers, and urged that delivery be sped up.

Mary Buckley, interim CEO of the IDA, acknowledged that clients "have highlighted the challenges around housing" but said that they accept that it is a global issue.

The housing crisis "hasn't stopped investment" into Ireland, she maintained, while noting that "it is not helpful".

Ms Buckely told the committee that there were 155 investments for the first half of the year, which is a 9% increase on last year and created 18,000 jobs

Fine Gael's Richard Burton urged that the crucial role of data centres be highlighted, given the negative headlines which have tatgetted the sector.

Data centres play a fundamental role in the lives of people across Ireland, Donal Travers, the Head of IDA's Enterprise Technology Group, said.

Many of the global leaders operate in Ireland, and they in turn attract software companies, he said.

They are also "at the front of bringing renewables onto the grid", and each one has a strategy to be carbon neutral, in the case of Microsoft, by 2025.

Independent TD Matt Shanahan said an industry expert from the UK recently asserted that there is no cyber-security framework to protect Ireland's wind generation network, adding that this needs to be addressed.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Committee Cathaoirleach Maurice Quinlivan said that they welcomed the opportunity to discuss the current challenges facing the technology sector given the recent job losses at Meta, Stripe and Twitter.

"While Ireland remains at the heart of the technology industry in Europe and is a place to do business, multinational companies must be mindful of their legal responsibilities regarding collective redundancies and must comply with Irish employment laws," Mr Quinlivan said.

Labour Party Senator Marie Sherlock asked the IDA if its influence and relationship was different with tech manufacturing firms compared to social media companies like Twitter and Meta.

"We work closely with both services and manufacturing," Mary Buckley, Interim CEO of the IDA, replied.

"Our relationships with our client companies are very strong, they have to be," she added.

Senator Sherlock asked if Meta and Twitter had received IDA grants to set up in Ireland and was told they had not as regional aid is not available in Dublin.