Wed 3rd Jul 2013
The President’s Speech
First Minister, Deputy First Minister, Ministers, ladies and gentlemen.
I’d like to thank you all for joining us here today in Parliament Buildings for the launch of our manifesto for Jobs and Growth, Enabling Economic Excellence.
These are challenging times for the economy, and we are here today to outline how the business community can work with the government to ensure that we face the challenges together, and how by re-balancing the economy, we can turn a corner and look forward to future economic growth.
The Chamber of Commerce represents around one thousand businesses throughout the region, employing some 80,000 people.
It is the only business representative organisation dedicated exclusively to all business and enterprise in Northern Ireland and we are firmly committed to creating a strong economy and thereby contributing to a strong and fair society.
Since I was elected President, members from across Northern Ireland, and from all business areas, have been telling me that these are some of the most challenging times we’ve faced.
But the private sector is resilient and durable.
Throughout history, entrepreneurs in NI have exported their products and services worldwide, and we continue to do so.
We may make different products from what previous generations made, but our endeavour and entrepreneurial spirit have stayed the same.
We are here today to set out how we can best deal with the gathering storm.
Ministers, you and your colleagues in Government cannot do this on your own, just as the private sector cannot deliver by going on a solo run.
There has got to be a genuinely ‘joined up’ response to the economic crisis, one that will test us all greatly before we emerge the other end.
Realism and steadfastness, courage and innovation will all feature in the way we do battle with this economic ‘virus’ that threatens to thwart and undermine recovery.
Not only do we have significant cuts coming our way from Treasury, but we also have to grapple with the appalling economic situation fifty miles down the road.
The Republic of Ireland is weakened, vulnerable and under unprecedented pressure.
That will have an impact here. Let’s not forget that North-to-South trade is worth about