Brexiteer Wetherspoon boss plans £13m splurge in the EU
JD Wetherspoon, headed by vocal Brexit-backing chairman Tim Martin, has announced its biggest ever single investment into the European Union.
And Mr Martin, who went to school in Northern Ireland, has said he plans to open more pubs on both sides of the border.
The latest deal will see the pub chain ploughing €15m (£13.1m) into developing a new pub and 98-bedroom hotel in Dublin city centre, creating 200 jobs.
Development work at the site, currently a row of derelict properties in Camden Street, will begin in February 2018, with the pub and hotel set to open early 2019.
Announcing the investment yesterday, Mr Martin said: "We are looking forward to developing the site into a fantastic pub and hotel.
"It will be the biggest single investment undertaken by Wetherspoon and will result in our largest hotel alongside a superb pub.
"Our pubs in the Republic of Ireland are thriving and we are confident that the pub and hotel will be a great asset to Dublin and act as a catalyst for other businesses to invest in the city."
Mr Martin added: "Trade and investment will continue, inside or outside the EU, as the Brexit campaign has emphasised.
"The biggest investors in the UK in the catering industry, for example, are American - Starbucks, McDonald's and others. And the EU and UK have no trade deal with America.
"Wetherspoon has four pubs in the Belfast area and four in Dublin and plans to open more pubs in both cities. Cross-border trade and investment will continue after Brexit, as the Irish and UK governments have made clear."
Mr Martin said progress was still moving - albeit rather slowly - on his new two Belfast sites.
He told Business Telegraph he expects to find out in September if the site in a former JJB Sports store on Royal Avenue will be granted a drinks licence.
The chain also plans to open another branch in a disused Methodist church on University Road. However, the site has not yet been granted planning permission.
Mr Martin, a former Campbell College pupil, previously said he expected to invest between £4-£5m in the two new bars, creating around 100 new jobs.
"I think delays can be frustrating but we are used to dealing with regulations which apply in different ways around the country," he said.